Issue February 26, 2008

County answers dog lawsuit

The lawsuit challenging the city’s dangerous dog ordinance took one step forward last week after the Jefferson County Attorney filed its response to the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. In its own cross-motion for summary judgment — basically, a request for the presiding judge to rule in their favor without the case going to trial — the city asks Federal Circuit Judge Charles Simpson to toss out the lawsuit and rule in favor of the city.

The plaintiffs — the Louisville Kennel Club and several disparate groups — allege that the ordinance governing dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs is too vague. They also challenge provisions that they say allow the director of Metro Animal Services to inspect the homes of people with unaltered dogs.

The county’s latest filing calls the plaintiffs’ legal case weak and notes that their filing is filled with personal attacks on MAS Director Gilles Meloche, whose work history includes controversy in his native Canada as well as North Carolina and Florida.

The case is not quite done. The plaintiffs have a few weeks to respond with a brief, which will be followed by more briefs from Metro government.

The case may reach Simpson by the end of March. Jon Fleischaker, the lead plaintiffs’ attorney, believes the judge will issue a ruling, but Bill Patteson, spokesman for the county attorney’s  office, told LEO that his office always prepares as if a case will go to trial.

Reached Tuesday, Fleischaker said he believes the plaintiffs have suitable responses to the many assertions in the county’s cross-motion. Patteson declined to comment about the specifics of the case. —Cary Stemle