Fabrikant v. French, No. 10-3288 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Fabrikant was arrested and arraigned on five counts of criminal animal cruelty, pursuant to New York Agriculture and Markets Law 353. All but two of her dogs were taken. The seized dogs were spayed or neutered and sent to live in foster homes pending conclusion of the criminal case. Fabrikant was ultimately acquitted but apparently never asked that her seized dogs be returned after the trial. She filed a pro se civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the New York SPCA, several of its employees, and some of the prospective adopters who originally alerted the SPCA about the dogs’ conditions. The complaint included federal claims for malicious prosecution and for violations of her rights to due process, the presumption of innocence, counsel, and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and state-law claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Accordingly, although they acted under color of state law, the SPCA defendants were protected by qualified immunity and could not be held liable for the spaying, neutering, or fostering out of Fabrikant’s dogs. Officers had probable cause to search Fabrikant’s house and arrest her.