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Lagnese v. City of Waterbury

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 30, 2018

GLORIANNA LAGNESE; REBOUND HOUNDS RES-Q INC., DONALD J. ANDERSON, JR.; individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF WATERBURY; TOWN OF MANCHESTER; TOWN OF SOUTHINGTON; individually and on behalf of all 169 municipalities in the State of Connecticut, Defendants.

          ORDER RE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND PROVISIONAL CLASS CERTIFICATION

          Alvin W. Thompson United States District Judge.

         For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and provisional class certification is being denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Glorianna Lagnese, Rebound Hounds Res-Q Inc. and Donald J. Anderson, Jr., individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, bring this action against defendants City of Waterbury, Town of Manchester and Town of Southington, individually and on behalf of all 169 similarly situated municipalities in the State of Connecticut, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief related to the seizure and impoundment of the plaintiffs' dogs.

         The plaintiffs bring four claims. The first claim is a claim that Connecticut General Statutes § 22-358(c) is unconstitutional on its face. The plaintiffs allege, in the First Count, that “it fails to define any method of assessing the severity of an alleged dog bite or attack, or the circumstances of the bite or attack, in order to determine whether any enforcement is appropriate and if so, whether and when the issuance of a restraint order is proper as opposed to issuing a disposal order.” Second Amended Class Action Complaint (“Compl.”) (Doc. No. 44) at ¶ 58.

         The plaintiffs' second claim is that Connecticut General Statutes § 22-358(c) is unconstitutional as applied. The plaintiffs allege, also in the First Count, that

The statute is unconstitutional as applied because the Connecticut Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA, CGS §4-167, et seq.) requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to promulgate regulations for the enforcement of CGS §22-358(c) by defendants' ACOs, and the Commissioner of Agriculture has never promulgated any rules, policies, procedures, guidelines, practices or regulations regarding the enforcement of CGS §22-358(c).

Compl. ¶ 62.

         The plaintiffs' third claim is a claim for a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. The plaintiffs allege, in the Second Count:

The seizure of plaintiffs' dogs is unreasonable because there exists no explicit statutory authority to hold the dog beyond the fourteen-day rabies quarantine period, and the disposal order forms provided by the State Department of Agriculture and utilized by the defendants' ACOs specifically contemplate the dog will be returned to the possession of the owner.
By seizing plaintiffs' dogs without a warrant and retaining possession of such dogs for over a year after the expiration of the “14-day Rabies Quarantine” period incident to the defendants' enforcement of CGS §22-358(c), and without providing plaintiffs with the necessary due process, including an opportunity to contest the validity of the seizure and retention, defendants violated plaintiffs' rights under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Compl. ¶¶ 71, 77.

         The plaintiffs' fourth claim is a procedural due process claim. The plaintiffs allege, in the Third Count:

Defendants' enforcement of the statute in the foregoing manner has resulted in a meaningful interference and deprivation of plaintiffs' property, their dogs, without any process and is violative of the procedural due process requirements of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Defendants' enforcement of the statute against all plaintiffs has not provided them with timely notice and an opportunity for a hearing or any other review of the decision to seize and retain, such that plaintiffs' deprivation of their property, their dogs, without process, has occurred and continues to occur, thus violating plaintiffs' rights under the 14th Amendment.

Compl. ¶¶ 88, 89.

         Plaintiff Glorianna Lagnese's dog, Rose, was seized by the City of Waterbury on April 20, 2014 after a bite incident where the complainant was not on the premises of Rose's owner or keeper. A disposal order was issued on April 25, 2014 (i.e. five days after the dog was seized). It was appealed to the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (the “Commissioner”). A hearing was held but Lagnese did not appear at the hearing despite being given notice. However, an attorney appeared for her after the hearing. The attorney was invited to make a written submission. Subsequently, a final decision upholding the disposal order was issued on November 17, 2015. Lagnese appealed to the Connecticut Superior Court and the appeal was dismissed for failure to prosecute.

         Plaintiff Rebound Hounds Res-Q, Inc.'s dog, Yeezy, was seized by the Town of Manchester on December 23, 2014 after a bite incident where the complainant was not on the premises of Yeezy's owner or keeper. A disposal order was issued on January 5, 2015 (i.e. 13 days after the dog was seized). It was appealed. After numerous continuances requested by both sides, the hearing was completed on April 1, 2016. The hearing officer has not issued a final decision.

         Plaintiff Donald J. Anderson, Jr.'s dog, Bubba, was seized by the Town of Southington on May 23, 2015 after a bite incident where the complainant was not on the premises of Bubba's owner or keeper. A disposal order was issued on June 6, 2015 (i.e. 14 days after the dog was ...


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