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Judge allows Colton dog trainer’s suit against state to continue


A federal judge has allowed a dog trainer’s lawsuit against the state attorney general to proceed in regard to the question of whether the trainer, Jon C. Sabin, is entitled to injunctive relief.

Mr. Sabin, Colton, operator of Seizure Alert Dogs for Life Inc., filed suit in September 2012 in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, against Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Assistant Attorney General Deanna R. Nelson, claiming his civil rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act when the attorney general obtained an order barring him from running his business.

The attorney general had argued, among other things, that Mr. Sabin was falsely advertising that his dogs were trained to alert people about oncoming seizures. Mr. Sabin filed federal action, contending that federal disability laws supersede state laws governing service-animal training.

In April, Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles recommended to Judge Gary L. Sharpe, who is presiding over Mr. Sabin’s federal case, that significant portions of the action be dismissed, including Mr. Sabin’s claims for $75 million in damages from the state officials. Judge Peebles wrote in his recommendation that federal law, under the 11th Amendment, prohibits suits in federal court brought by parties seeking monetary damages that must be paid through state funds.

Judge Peebles did, however, recommend keeping alive Mr. Sabin’s request for injunctive relief which, if successful, would prevent the attorney general from enforcing state service animal laws against him and allow him to continue training dogs. The judge also gave Mr. Sabin an opportunity to amend his complaint with Judge Sharpe adopting those recommendations.

Mr. Sabin chose not to file an amended complaint, saying Monday that he was satisfied with the claims made in the original complaint and its request for injunctive relief.

Judge Sharpe ruled last week that the suit will now proceed with the original complaint being the “operative pleading.” The judge also issued summonses to the defendants, meaning they now will file a formal response to the action. Mr. Sabin has been acting as his own attorney throughout the proceedings, but said he is seeking an attorney to assist him.

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