Oliver v. Clay County

Oliver v. Clay County
Circuit Court, Clay County, Florida

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Marcy Lahart, Esq., for "Pip" and "Lily"

We will be watching this case with great interest, as it involves some interesting legal theories about the burden of proof due process and impoundment as forfeiture.  The two dogs got out on January 23, 2010 when an uninvited visitor left the gate open.  They ended up attacking two dogs and biting someone which required sutures. 

 On January 28, 2010 Oliver was given notice, signed by Lorin Mock, the Chief of the Clay County Fire Department, stating that because "of the bites resulting in severe injury to a person and injury to their pets which occurred on January 23, 2010, I have made an initial determination to classify the dogs as dangerous and to order they be euthanized in a humane manner." On January 29, 2010 Oliver requested a hearing regarding Pip and Lily's death sentence. On February 22, 2010 Chief Mock provided Oliver a letter in which he announced that he had decided to uphold his own initial ruling that Pip and Lily be killed.

A hearing was scheduled for March 26, 2010. Several witnesses testified, including the bite victim. None of the witnesses were able to identify which of the two dogs had actually caused the severe injury.

Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that the County did not produce evidence establishing which dog had in fact severely injured the victim, Judge Collins found that the dogs "attacked [the victim] and caused her severe injury as defined by Chapter 767, Florida Statutes individually and in concert with each other." His order found that the larger of the two dogs bit the woman in the arm and the smaller of the two dogs knocked the victim to the ground and ripped the victim's hand between the thumb and forefinger. However, there was no evidence whatsoever that indicated whether or not the two bites were inflicted by the same dog. The order did not identify which dog is "the larger of the two" and no testimony regarding that fact was produced. Further, the Judge did not find that the wound on the victim's hand is a severe injury, and the order specifies that she did not require sutures on the hand.

Oliver appealed to the Circuit Court and the Writ of Certiorari can be read here .

 

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