Justices Won’t Hear Beagle Death Case Against DNRC

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Katie Stancome for www.theindianalawyer.

Indiana Supreme Court justices declined to hear a case in which a woman sued the Department of Natural Resources after her pet beagle was killed by a concealed raccoon trap at Versailles State Park.

In December 2011, Melodie Liddle was walking her dogs, including her beagle, Copper, through the state park. During their walk, Copper became ensnared in a raccoon trap set by Harry Bloom, a park security officer who had been authorized to set raccoon traps pursuant to a DNR-issued emergency rule.

Though she tried to set the dog free, Liddle was unsuccessful and Copper died while still in the trap. Liddle sued DNR representatives in their individual and official capacities, seeking various forms of relief, including the declaratory judgment that the emergency rules could not be used to issue trapping permits and damages related to Copper’s death. She received almost $500 in damages for the dog’s fair market value, but her remaining claims could not stand.

The Indiana Court of Appeals found Liddle’s claims were moot in Melodie Liddle v. Cameron F. Clark, et al., 49A04-1707-MI-1662, further determining that the dog’s sentimental value could not be considered in the calculation of damages.

The case was one of 11 transfer petitions the court rejected last week.

Justices granted transfer and ruled in Campbell Hausfeld/Scott Fetzer Company v. Paul Johnson64A03-1705-CT-984, in which the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment to a tool manufacturer sued after a man lost his eye while using one of the manufacturer’s products.

The high court on Thursday found the man’s misuse of the tool in question was the cause of his injuries and was a complete defense to his product liability claim, remanding the appellate court’s decision.

The transfer list for the week ending Nov. 2 can be found here.

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