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Judge dismisses seizure-dog trainer’s civil rights suit against Pierrepont town justice


COLTON - A federal judge has dismissed a civil rights complaint brought by seizure-dog trainer Jon C. Sabin against Pierrepont Town Justice Robert G. Camp over allegations that the justice refused to let Mr. Sabin bring his own service dog into the town’s courtroom.

Mr. Sabin, Colton, filed action in August in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, against Justice Camp, both personally and in his capacity as a justice, claiming Justice Camp had told Mr. Sabin’s attorney that he did not want Mr. Sabin’s service dog in the courtroom. According to court documents, Mr. Sabin claims he is a “severe” epileptic and a cardiac patient whose dog can alert him to oncoming seizures.

Mr. Sabin also trains seizure dogs, although the state attorney general’s office has filed suit against him, alleging that his dogs could not detect seizures before they occurred and that in some cases the dogs had received inadequate training or were aggressive. He has filed a countersuit claiming violations to his constitutional rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Tuesday, Chief Judge Gary L. Sharpe adopted Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles’s recommendations made last month that Mr. Sabin’s suit against Justice Camp be dismissed. In his recommendation, Judge Peebles noted that Mr. Sabin’s complaint failed to state a claim upon which any relief could be granted. The judge said that, while Mr. Sabin claims in his suit that he suffers from epilepsy and cardiac illness, he does not claim that either condition “limits one or more major life activities,” an essential component in a claim that he was discriminated against due to a disability.

Judge Peebles also dismissed all remaining claims against Justice Camp, stating, among other things, that the justice has judicial immunity that shields him from liability in his official capacity and that it is “well established” that the Americans with Disabilities Act “does not contemplate lawsuits against state and other municipal officials in their individual capacities.”

Judge Peebles recommended that Mr. Sabin, who acted as his own attorney, be given the opportunity to correct the deficiencies in his complaint and refile a suit should he choose, an option that was also approved by Judge Sharpe. He will not be allowed to replead any claims against Justice Camp personally, although he could amend his claims to include the town.

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