United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Jann
Propp-Estimo's (“Propp-Estimo”) motion for
temporary restraining order (Dkt. 6). The Court has
considered the pleadings filed in support of and in
opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and
hereby denies the motion for the reasons stated herein.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
13, 2017, Propp-Estimo filed a complaint against Defendants
Lewis County, Lewis County Animal Shelter, Lewis County
Sheriff's Office, Gabriel Frase, and Amy Hanson
(“Defendants”). Dkt. 1-1. Propp-Estimo asserts
seven causes of action stemming from the seizure and
judicially ordered euthanasia of her dog Hank. Id.
Unbeknownst to Propp-Estimo, Hank was previously named Tank
and had been declared a dangerous animal while in the
possession of his previous owner. Although Propp-Estimo
adopted Hank “as-is” from the animal shelter, no
one informed Propp-Estimo of Hank's history. On May 9,
2017, Detective Frase contacted Propp-Estimo regarding Hank.
Dkt. 7, Declaration of PES, ¶ 24. Detective Frase
eventually seized Hank at Propp-Estimo's son's home
later that afternoon. Id. ¶ 28.
19, 2017, Lewis County adopted § 6.05.155 entitled
“Judicial removal of dangerous animal
designation.” The provision applies
“retrospectively to all animals which have been
designated as dangerous animals and which are in the
possession of Lewis County's animal shelter on the date
of its enactment.” Lewis County Code, §
6.05.155(8). The provision also grants the judicial officer
the power to declare an animal a “dangerous
animal” and order “that it be humanely
same day the county adopted the ordinance, Lewis County
District Judge R.W. Buzzard held a hearing regarding Hank.
Judge Buzzard declared Hank a dangerous animal and ordered
that he be humanely destroyed within 48 hours. Dkt. 8 at
90-91. Propp-Estimo immediately appealed the ruling to the
Lewis County Superior Court, and Superior Court Judge James
Lawler stayed the euthanasia until August 31, 2017. Dkt. 6 at
7. A hearing on the appeal is set for August 24, 2017.
Id. at 8.
20, 2017, Defendants removed the complaint to this Court.
Dkt. 1. On August 1, 2017, Propp-Estimo filed the motion for
a temporary restraining order. Dkt. 6. On August 2, 2017,
Defendants responded. Dkt. 10.
plaintiff seeking preliminary relief must establish that she
is likely to succeed on the merits, that she is likely to
suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,
that the balance of equities tips in her favor, and that an
injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Natural
Resources Defense Council, 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008).
case, Propp-Estimo has failed to show that she is likely to
succeed on the merits or that an injunction is in the public
interest. First, Propp-Estimo argues that she is likely to
succeed on merits of her claims for specific performance,
equitable estoppel, and violation of her Fourth Amendment
rights. Specific performance is a possible remedy for breach
of contract and not a separate cause of action. To the extent
Propp-Estimo alleges a breach of contract, she has failed to
show a likelihood of success on the merits of this claim when
she adopted Hank “as-is.” Similarly, the
principles of equitable estoppel do not clearly fit the facts
of this case. While it seems inexplicable to adopt out a
dangerous animal only to seize the animal three months later
and order it to be humanely destroyed, Propp-Estimo fails to
show that she is likely to succeed on a claim that the animal
shelter's alleged misrepresentations by omissions vitiate
the fact that Hank has been declared a dangerous animal.
Regarding the Fourth Amendment violation, Propp-Estimo has
failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits when
she, or her son, voluntarily delivered Hank to the officers.
Therefore, the Court concludes that PES has failed to show a
likelihood of success on the merits of any claim in her
Propp-Estimo has failed to show that her requested injunction
is in the public interest. Propp-Estimo requests an order
“compelling the County to immediately release Hank to
her custody at no charge and with no restrictions except
those attendant upon any nondangerous dog subject to the
general laws.” Dkt. 6 at 22. Two independent government
officials have declared Hank a dangerous animal. Even though
Propp-Estimo provides facts in support of her contention that
he is not a dangerous animal, the public has an interest in
treating Hank as a dangerous animal until those findings are
properly overturned. The Court notes that Defendants concede
they are willing to release Hank to Propp-Estimo if she
“agreed to maintain him under the dangerous dog
restrictions required by law.” Dkt. 10 at 3.
Regardless, the Court concludes that Propp-Estimo has failed
to show that an immediate injunction is in the public
it is hereby ORDERED that Propp-Estimo's motion for