Thursday, July 6, 2017
Lawyers Cry "Dog Racism" in Defending Their Vicious Pet Pit Bull
Michelle Kelban-Carteron owns a Manhattan condo in the Chelsea Modern complex. Both Michelle and her husband, Gino Carteron, are attorneys. They retained a third lawyer, Adam Leitman Bailey, to represent them in a dispute with their condo board. The board issued an eviction notice to Luna, their five year old pet pit bull. Pit bulls were historically a mix breed between bulldogs and terriers. Luna assaulted Kinje, a small Havanese mix, in front of the condo, illustrating why pit bulls have acquired a vicious reputation. The condo lease contains an anti-pit bull clause, which allows the condo board to evict any pit bull or other dangerous dog. Michelle presumably read the contract before signing; she is not only a partner in the large, prestigious Latham & Watkins law firm, but co-chair of its real estate practice. If she didn’t read and understand it, then questions could be raised about her competency. She claims it was a one-time only incident. The board’s attorney says the pit bull has been unruly for a year. The common law holds owners of a vicious dog liable if they knew or should have known of the dog’s vicious propensities. The lore of the common law was that every dog “gets one free bite.” Luna had her bite. In addition, cases establish that landlords, or by analogy condo boards, could be liable if they know of the dangers posed by a dog on the premises, but fail to take steps to minimize the risk. Thus, the anti-pit bull clause in the condo contract. Michelle is not going to let her sleeping, or vicious pit bull, lie on her legal rights. Attorney Bailey is a noted real estate lawyer, who is acting like a pit bull of an attorney. He claims “dog racism” because the breed of pit dogs is being singled out and discriminated against. “Dog racism” is akin to the suit filed a few years ago seeking a writ of habeas corpus for Kiko, a chimpanzee. Admittedly, there’s about a 96% overlap in human and chimp DNA, but animals aren’t protected by the Bill of Rights. The case was tossed fairly quickly without a bone to plaintiffs. Similarly, courts have upheld pit bull bans in communities. Bailey threatens to take his dog racism case to the New York City Human Rights Commission, expecting a prosecution. Lawyers can be creative and ingenious. Michelle had Luna certified after the dog mauling incident as a “service dog” for her husband, who is sung the US Postal Service for allegedly being struck by a postal vehicle while cycling – not the wisest act in Manhattan. Two doctors have recommended that a dog, ergo Luna, be provided for emotional support for Gino, proving that the lawyers have gone to the dogs. Attorney Bailey thereby claims that depriving Gino of Luna would violate the Americans With Disabilities Act: “Unfortunately, they’re putting whatever petty grievances they have, or this [board member] woman has, over the need of my client to have a therapy dog and the welfare of the actual dog, a mixed-breed pit bull, which is very sad.” Every dog gets one free bite. Luna’s next bite could be a child! Now we have a battle between service dogs. Kinje is a certified service dog that visits pediatric cancer patients. Luna is servicing a lawyer.