SUPREME COURT: Dog Trainer Can’t Sue School

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The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed the decision of an appeals court that said a service dog trainer could sue Drake University Law School because she was barred from bringing the dog she was training into the classroom.

Nicole Shumate filed the lawsuit in 2011. Her lawsuit was dismissed in district court, but the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision and remanded the case for further action saying the lawsuit could move forward.

In its ruling the Appeals Court stated there is an “implication the legislature intended citizens afforded rights under chapter 216C to be able to seek civil redress when those rights are violated.”

Drake University Law School asked for the Iowa Supreme Court to review the ruling in January.  Friday, the court released its ruling vacating the Appeals Court’s action. In the Supreme Court’s decision Justice Thomas Waterman writes, “We conclude the legislature purposely omitted a private right to sue from chapter 216C.”


  • Mike Cee

    Outstanding. Shumate was doing this for the money-nothing more. She knew that she wasn’t allowed to bring her dog in unless it was an actual service dog assisting her (it wasn’t). Instead she chose to disrupt the class by bringing a dog; completely unacceptable.

    It’s too bad that she won’t be forced to bear the defense costs of her frivolous lawsuit.

    • Casper

      Mike, are you a diabled Veteran? do you know anything about what a service dog does for a diabled Veteran? do you know any of the struggles and stress that it brings to a Veteran who is challenged by people or businesses about having their Service Dog? Ill guess not. Well i do! I appreciate the work that Schumate has done for Veterans as well as children with disabilities. And, I assure you that having this issue in the public eye brings almost as much in Service dog awareness as would have a win in the court. I agree that some people take advantage of Iowa’s loose Service dog laws and there should be some regulatory actions taken. but this was never about money. but how can you send a university to jail?
      And I am so sorry to those who feel so inconvenienced by people that try to make a postive and sometimes life saving change in a Combat Veterans life. Im proud of you Schumate. thanks for what you do and what you do to try to help others instead of doing nothing to help and complaing about what efforts others make. -J

    • Jeremy

      it shouldn’t matter that she was a college student at the time. She was denied entry into an establishment that she legally had the right to enter with a service dog in training. According to the law, dogs in training along with their handler are afforded the same rights as someone with a placed service dog.

      How exactly do you think seeing eye dogs and other service animals are trained? They go with their handlers EVERYWHERE whether that is college, work, shopping, restaurants, etc.

  • Patti Guy Sheeler

    I would like to know how a service dog is to be completely trained without the benefit of entering places such as a classroom? That to me is like expecting a lawyer to practice law without ever setting foot in a courtroom.

  • John

    Patti but the disruption affects those in the class besides the trainer. Thereforeviolating their ability to enjoy the servie they are paying for in the form of the class. SAme as smoking in public the enjoyment or enrichment of one at the expense of all others around them should not be allowed. or as Spock states the needs of the many…………

    • Casper

      John, so just to be clear, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? so because only around 1 Percent of the U.S. population serves in the Armed forces, our needs should be put aside and someone doing something to help the high demand (but little supply) for service dogs should only be able to help if noone else is distracted by seeing it. As having a service dog in training at your feet that falls asleep only affects you if you stare at it . and at that point its not the dogs fault or the trainers, you have an attention problem.

  • Troy V

    My question would be: Was she a student @ Drake? If yes, how did she have time to “train” a service dog (doesn’t that require a lot of training that a college student shouldnt’ have?).

    If it were her that needed the service dog (she was blind for example), I have no doubt that the dog would have been allowed to stay, but from what I know about Service Dogs, they aren’t trained by someone going to college, they are trained specifically to be service dogs by a third party and only when they are done training are they paired up with someone. (and more than one at a time are trained as those service animals must be able to function with other animals around (dogs, cats, rude people, etc.)

  • Jeremy

    You’d be surprised but volunteers raise and train service dogs for service organizations. Dogs in training and their handlers are afforded the same rights under the law as service dogs that have been placed.

    A lot of the training that goes into the dog is socializing. Taking them to different places and having them experience different situations. Whether that is going to college, work, restaurants, etc.

    So yes, a college student can be a service dog trainer for a service dog organization.

    Seems like a quick google search by people commenting would be helpful.

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