Florida Case Law

Florida Case Law

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Supreme Court of Florida

County of Pasco v. Riehl, 635 So.2d 17 (S.Ct. 1994) - The seminal case in Florida regarding Dangerous Dog Classification and the procedures required for such a finding. The case involved the version of F.S. § 767 as it existed in 1991.  The statute has been changed since then, but the case is still important for several reasons. The court agreed with the Second District Court of Appeal, which had previously decided in Pasco v. Riehl, 620 So2d 229 (2nd DCA 1993), that F.S. § 767 was unconstitutional because it did not require a pre-deprivation hearing before the dog could be declared dangerous.The case is quoted liberally in the defense of dangerous dogs for the proposition that an attempt to declare a dog dangerous triggers due process. "In the instant case, the Riehl's private property was subject to, among other things, physical confinement, tattooing, or electric implantation, and muzzling. In the aggregate, these restrictions are a deprivation of property  and before such restrictions are imposed the property owner must be afforded an opportunity to be heard."

Fifth District Court of Appeal

City of Ocala v. Gard, 988 So.2d 1281 (5th DCA 2008) - The appellate court found that a writ of prohibition was improperly granted by the circuit court. The appellate circuit court had initially sent the case back to the Code Enforcement Board because the court was not sure that the Board understood that it was within their discretion to order a penalty other than the dog's destruction. The Board then again found the dog should be killed.  Gard took a writ of prohibition instead of appealing to the appellate circuit court again. The court found that the proper remedy for Gard was an appeal to the appellate circuit court and therefore a Writ of Prohibition was improper.

City of Ocala v. Green, 988 So.2d 114 (5th DCA 2008) - The appellate court reversed the appellate circuit court based on the agreement of counsel that the City of Ocala Ordinance was not procedurally flawed. The appellate circuit court had wrongfully held that a dog owner had to be criminally prosecuted as a condition precedent to a dangerous dog's confiscation and detruction.

Marion County v. Grunnah, 962 So.2d 931 (5th DCA 2007) - The case involved the jurisdiction of the county court to hear appeals under the Marion County Dangerous Dog Ordinance.  The question on appeal was whether the county court reviewed the Code Enforcement Board's Dangerous Dog Classification de novo, or simply reviewed the record.  The issue was not decided by the court.  It sidestepped such a decision by simply finding that Grunnah had wrongfully been granted a Writ of Prohibition by the lower court.

Helmy v. Swigert, 662 So.2d 395 (5th DCA 1995) - The dog "Popeye" was seized as evidence in a criminal case which was later nol prossed. After seizure he was given to the Humane Society. Helmy filed a motion for return of the dog before Judge Swigert, who denied it because they had not made a demand for return, and he had no jurisdiction to order return the dog since it was held by the Humane Society. The Helmys filed a Writ of Mandamus in the Circuit Court for an Order directing Judge Swigert to return the dog. The court found that the dog belonged to the Helmys, but apparently there was no record of how the Humane Society got custody of Popeye. The court thus granted the Writ of Mandamus directing Judge Swigert to hold an evidentiary hearing resolving the factual dispute of possession of Popeye.

Dangerous Dog Law

Helping to defend our best friends. Dangerous Dog Law (DDL) focuses on the legal defense of allegedly dangerous dogs. DDL is a member of the Pit Bulletin Legal News Network.

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