Cases In Which ALDF Has Filed An Amicus Curiae Brief

An amicus curiae brief permits a non-party to offer its view of a case, typically premised on either its interest in the outcome or its expertise in the field. The Animal Legal Defense Fund submits amicus briefs in a wide variety of cases, working to advance the interests of animals by urging courts to recognize their own interests and their special value to humans. The following are a few notable cases in which the Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed an amicus brief.

For those interested in having ALDF file an amicus curiae brief, please fill out this form.

United States Supreme Court Cases

United States v. Stevens
Filed April 2009, United States Supreme Court
In United States v. Stevens, the Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 48, a law prohibiting the sale and possession of depictions of animal cruelty that lack social value. As the first Supreme Court case in more than fifteen years to directly address the issue of animal cruelty, Stevens presented a unique opportunity to convince the Court of the importance of animal protection. ALDF’s amicus brief urged the Court to recognize the protection of animals as a compelling government interest and uphold the statute.

Winter v. Natural Resource Defense Council
Filed September 2008, United States Supreme Court
In Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the Supreme Court addressed the legality of military sonar exercises believed to cause significant harm to marine life, including whales and dolphins. ALDF joined a coalition of animal protection and environmental groups in filing an amicus brief contesting the lax standard proposed by the government in certain wildlife cases.

Federal Appellate Cases

Dias v. City and County of Denver
Filed August 2008, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
In Dias v. City & County of Denver, a case involving a challenge to Denver’s ban on pit bulls, ALDF filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, highlighting for the court the close bond between humans and their dogs and the need for strong judicial checks against sweeping breed bans that unfairly separate humans from their companion animals.

Illinois Restaurant Association v. City of Chicago
Submitted March 2008 (leave to file denied), United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
In Illinois Restaurant Association v. City of Chicago, a trade group representing restaurants challenged the city of Chicago’s ban on the sale of foie gras, a “delicacy” produced by cruelly force feeding ducks and geese until their livers swell to many times their normal size. ALDF drafted an amicus brief in support of Chicago, urging the Seventh Circuit to reject the restaurant association’s claim that the humane treatment of animals was not a legitimate local interest.

State Supreme Court Cases

Newman v. Veterinary Board of Governors
Filed September 13, 2011
In Newman v. Veterinary Board of Governors victims of alleged veterinary malpractice argued that the agency charged with overseeing veterinarians and preventing them from committing malpractice should be subject to judicial oversight, so that the agency could not simply ignore its duties and thereby fail to protect animal patients and their guardians.

Sather v City of Spokane
Filed November 2010, Washington Supreme Court
In Sather v. City of Spokane the guardian of a dog accused of being vicious argued that the City violated his due process rights by not allowing him to subpoena witnesses, and by making him pay to avoid his dog being killed without a hearing to determine the dog’s guilt or innocence and without any chance of reimbursement.

Goodby v. Vetpharm
Filed March 2008, Supreme Court of the State of Vermont
In Goodby v. Vetpharm, a couple sued a veterinary pharmacy and others after allegedly receiving pills for their cats that had twenty times as much drug as prescribed. In its amicus brief, ALDF urged the Vermont Supreme Court to permit the recovery of non-economic damages, including loss of companionship and emotional distress, in cases involving injury to or death of a companion animal.

Viva! International Voice for Animals v. Adidas Promotional Retail Operations, Inc.
Filed June 2006, Supreme Court of California
Many Adidas shoes are made from kangaroo skins. California law banned the importation of kangaroos skins for over thirty-five years, but Adidas continued to violate the law, shipping kangaroo skins from kangaroos slaughtered in Australia. Viva! sued the company and two California courts sided with Adidas, agreeing that federal law prohibited the California ban.  ALDF submitted an amicus brief in support of Viva! in the California Supreme Court, arguing that states had the right to ban products and conduct they felt was cruel to animals. The court ruled in favor of Viva!.

State Appellate Cases

Martinez v. Robledo; Workman v. Klause
Filed June and July 2012, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate Division
Martinez and Workman raise the issue of whether a plaintiff may recover veterinary expenses caused by the defendant if those expenses exceed the market value of the animal. ALDF’s briefs argue that plaintiffs should be able to recover the costs spent to nurse an animal back to health where their injuries were caused by the defendant, even if the plaintiff spent more on vet care than the animal was “worth” on the open market. The briefs contend that capping veterinary expenses at the animal’s market value fails to recognize animals’ true value to their companions.

Kathleen Sullivan et al. v. Daniel Bowen
Filed October 2011, Colorado Court of Appeals
This is a case regarding the damages owed to several pet owners whose five beloved dogs were killed in 2006 after eating poisoned meat left near their property in Adams County by a neighbor who said he was attempting to kill coyotes. ALDF filed an amicus brief in the appeal after the trial court instructed the jury that the dog owners’ economic damages should be measured by the market value “cost” of their dogs, rather than the true “value” of their dogs.

McMahon v. Craig
Filed February 2009, Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three
In McMahon v. Craig, the California Court of Appeal considered, for the first time in California, the question of how to evaluate the real value of a companion animal in a veterinary malpractice case. ALDF filed an amicus brief and was permitted to appear at oral argument, urging the court to recognize the actual value of companion animals to their guardians.

Sherman v. Kissinger; Sexton v. Brown; Brinton v. Codoni
Filed May and December 2008, Washington State Court of Appeals, Division I
In this trilogy of Washington cases, plaintiffs lost their companion dogs (Ruby, Joe-e, and Bear) to the alleged negligence of neighbors or veterinarians. ALDF’s amicus briefs asked the court to hold that the plaintiffs should be entitled to recover damages equal to the actual values they placed on their companions, not solely the dogs’ “market value.”

Graham v. Notti
Filed September 2008, Washington State Court of Appeals, Division III
Graham v. Notti involved a dispute over the proper owner of a lost dog named Harlee. ALDF submitted an amicus brief proposing that the court award custody on the basis of Harlee’s best interests.

Houseman v. Dare
Filed May 2008, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division
In Houseman v. Dare, a pug named Dexter was caught in the middle of a custody dispute when his guardians separated. ALDF submitted an amicus brief encouraging the court to consider the best interests of Dexter, rather than simply the property rights of the parties, in determining who should get custody of him.

Sarah v. Primarily Primates
Filed October 2007, Court of Appeals of the State of Texas, Fourth District
In Sarah v. Primarily Primates, ALDF filed an amicus brief urging the court to acknowledge the validity of trusts for the welfare of animals and the broad standing of persons who may enforce such trusts.

Womack v. Von Rardon
Filed May 2006, Washington State Court of Appeals, Division III
In Womack v. Von Rardon, a group of young men stole a woman’s cat, Max, then set fire to him, ultimately causing Max’s death. ALDF filed an amicus brief urging the court to hold that Max’s guardian was entitled to recovery for Max’s actual value to her, not just his market value. In an historic ruling, the court recognized a new cause of action–malicious injury to a pet–in cases involving animal abuse.

State Trial Court Cases

Feld Entertainment v. Fulton Co.
Filed February, 2012 in Superior Court of Fulton Coounty, Georgia
ALDF and other organizations filed a trial level amicus in the case of Feld Entertainment v. Fulton Co., et al., a case involving Ringling Brothers’ challenge to an ordinance in Georgia that bans the use of bullhooks on elephants.

Willis v. Wynn
Filed February 2008, District Court of the State of Oklahoma, Fourteenth Judicial District
Willis v. Wynn concerned the custody of Begonia and Blinky, two dogs. ALDF’s amicus brief advocated a best-interests-of-the-animals standard for resolving the dispute.

California Veterinary Medical Association v. City of West Hollywood
Filed December 2006, California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Seven
The City of West Hollywood voted to ban the cruel practice of nontherapeutic declawing of cats. The California Veterinary Medical Association sued the City to stop the ban, arguing that this form of painful mutilation was part of the “practice of veterinary medicine” and that the City could not limit veterinarians’ right to practice. ALDF filed an amicus brief in the case, supporting the city’s right to ban the cruel procedure within its borders. The brief noted that “By passing the Ordinance, the citizens of West Hollywood joined a growing community around the world that considers declawing for non-therapeutic purposes to be cruel.” The success for the City in the case led to many California cities enacting similar bans.

Auburn Woods I Homeowners Association v. Fair Employment and Housing Commission
Filed February 2004, California Court of Appeal, Third District
ALDF submitted an amicus brief in this case involving important issues regarding the emotional support animals may provide to disabled individuals. Jayne and Ed Elebiari lived with Pooky, a small dog whose companionship significantly reduced the symptoms associated with their medically-diagnosed severe depression. Their homeowners’ association demanded they get rid of Pooky, and the Elebiaris established that they were disabled persons and that Pooky represented a valid reasonable accommodation and that state and federal law required that the association allow them to have their dog.

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