United Pet Supply, Inc. v. City of Chattanooga, Tennessee

768 F.3d 464 (2014)

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United Pet Supply, Inc. v. City of Chattanooga, Tennessee

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
768 F.3d 464 (2014)

Facts

The nonprofit organization Animal Care Trust (McKamey) (defendant) contracted with the City of Chattanooga (the City) (defendant) to provide animal welfare services to the City. McKamey employees Karen Walsh and Marvin Nicholson, Jr. (defendants) were commissioned by the City as special police officers authorized to investigate animal neglect and cruelty. McKamey also employed Paula Hurn (defendant), who was not a special police officer. A former employee of the pet store owned by United Pet Supply, Inc. (Pet Supply) (plaintiff) presented to Walsh and complained that the animals at the pet store were being subjected to neglect and cruel conditions. Walsh and Nicholson went to investigate the claims and found the allegations made by the former employee to be true. Walsh notified Pet Supply’s vice president that McKamey was going to remove the animals from the store’s care and also began seizing business records. Walsh, Nicholson, and Hurn then proceeded with the removal process. Pet Supply filed an emergency petition for injunctive relief to prevent the removal of the animals. At the hearing, Walsh testified to the conditions she observed. The court consequently denied Pet Supply’s request for a temporary restraining order, and the removal of the animals continued. McKamey cited Pet Supply with several code violations and revoked its pet-dealer license. Pet Supply then brought an action in federal court under § 1983, claiming that the defendants’ removal of its animals and revocation of its license without hearing violated procedural due process, and further, that the warrantless seizure of its animals and business records violated the Fourth Amendment. The McKamey employees asserted qualified immunity as a defense to the claims. The district court granted summary judgment to the employees.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)

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