Justia Texas Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Animal / Dog Law
Waak v. Rodriguez
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that the Texas Farm Animal Activity Act (the Act), Tex. Civ. Proc. & Rem. Code 87.001-87.005, does not apply to ranchers and ranch hands, holding that the court of appeals did not err.The Act limits liability for injury to "a participant in a farm animal activity or livestock show" that results from an "inherent risk" of those activities. Raul Zuniga worked full-time for Conway and Marlene Waak to work cattle on a ranch, landscape, and cut hay. Zuniga died after being trampled. Plaintiffs, Zuniga's family, sued the Waaks, on wrongful death and survival claims. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Waaks, concluding that the Act barred Plaintiffs' claims. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Zuniga was not "a participant in a farm animal activity" for whose injuries and death the Act limits liability. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Act does not cover ranchers and ranch hands and, therefore, did not shield the Waaks from liability for their negligence resulting in Zuniga's death. View "Waak v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law
Lira v. Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue, Inc.
Alfonso and Lydia Lira owned a German Shepherd named Monte Carlo. After Monte escaped from Lydia’s property, the City of Houston’s animal control department, known as BARC, picked up Monte and gave him to a Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue (GHGSDR) volunteer to foster the dog. When Lydia discovered that BARC had transferred Monte to GHGSDR, the Liras requested Monte’s return, but GHGSDR refused to return Monte. The Liras sued GHGSDR, asserting, among other claims, a claim for conversion. The trial court entered a permanent injunction directing GHGSDR to return Monte to the Liras. The court of appeals reversed, ruling that the Liras had lost their right to recover possession of Monte. At issue on appeal was whether the City ordinances divested the Liras of their ownership. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the relevant ordinances did not expressly or impliedly divest the Liras of their ownership rights to Monte; and (2) the trial court did not err in concluding that Monte belonged to the Liras and enjoining GHGSDR to return him to his owners. View "Lira v. Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Animal / Dog Law
Strickland v. Medlen
The Medlens' dog Avery escaped the family's backyard and was picked up by animal control. Before the Medlens could retrieve Avery, shelter worker Carla Strickland mistakenly placed Avery on the euthanasia list, and Avery was put to sleep. The Medlens sued Strickland for causing Avery's death and sought damages for Avery's "intrinsic value." The trial court dismissed the suit with prejudice, concluding that Texas law barred such damages. The court of appeals reversed, becoming the first Texas court to hold that a dog owner may recover intangible loss-of-companionship damages in the form of intrinsic or sentimental-value property damages. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether emotional-injury damages were recoverable for the negligent destruction of a dog. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that under established legal doctrine, recovery in pet-death cases is, barring legislative reclassification, limited to "loss of value, not loss of relationship." View "Strickland v. Medlen" on Justia Law