Can Law Find a Way to Save the Dinosaurs of Jurassic World?

How to be Strictly Liable for Dinosaur Related Injuries

Any Court will take judicial notice that anyone who would leave a brachiosaurus to die in a volcano is an inhuman monster who is undeserving of love [expert testimony would be needed to determine why they have no hearts, such as they weren’t hugged by the mother in childhood]. Sure, adopting a rescue brachiosaurus would be grossly impractical, but the same is true of white rhinos, and we want them to live. Practicalities aside, are the dinosaurs in Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom a protected by Endangered Species or an Invasive Species?

Are Genetically Created Dinosaurs an Endangered Species?

The law defines a “species” as “any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.” 16 U.S. CODE § 1532(16). The dinosaurs of Jurassic World are wildlife, but there is a question whether they interbreed in order to reproduce. If all dinosaurs are created by the cunning and well dressed Dr. Henry Wu, they technically do not meet the plain text of the Endangered Species Act. However, if they do breed in adulthood, they arguably are a “species” even if originally created in a lab.

The test to determine whether a species is endangered asks: Is the species “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” 16 U.S. CODE § 1532(6). Moreover, a species can be considered “endangered” because of “natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.” 16 USCS § 1533(a)(1)(E).

A species is “threatened” if it is “likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” 16 U.S. CODE § 1532(20); Conservation Force, Inc. v. Jewell, 733 F.3d 1200, 1202 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

The volcano on Isla Nublar had become active and was predicted to have a cataclysmic eruption. Nothing says species “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” like hot lava flooding over an island. Even though dinosaurs are endangered, that does not create an independent duty to any country to mount a rescue mission to evacuate them from Isla Nublar. Moreover, rescuing dinosaurs could create another danger: Invasive Species.

Protecting Humans from Invasive Species

The danger of invasive species is a real one faced in the United States, from pythons in Florida to zebra mussels in the Great Lakes. Congress described the danger as follows:

When environmental conditions are favorable, nonindigenous species become established, may compete with or prey upon native species of plants, fish, and wildlife, may carry diseases or parasites that affect native species, and may disrupt the aquatic environment and economy of affected nearshore areas;

16 USCS section 4701(a)(2).

Pterodactyls picking off children in backyards or Utahraptors snacking on neighborhood pets might not have been the original dangers envisioned by Congress with preventing invasive species from entering ecosystems, but the laws clearly are in place to prevent such environmental disruption by dinosaurs introduced (or re-introduced) to the United States.

Presidential Executive Order 13112 (February 3, 1999) states that Invasive Species Are Not Protected by the Endangered Species Act. Federal agencies are to prevent the introduction of invasive species and “respond rapidly” to control the populations of invasive species. Subsections (i) and (ii). Moreover, the Government is to “provide for restoration of native species and habitat conditions in ecosystems that have been invaded.” Subsection (iv). Furthermore, Federal Agencies are charged with promoting “public education on invasive species and the means to address them.” Subsection (vi).

The Federal Government’s response to a dozen plus dinosaurs being introduced in California would need to be switch. Large predators such as a Tyrannosaurus Rex would either need to be exterminated by the military or somehow incapacitated and transferred to a special wildlife reserve, ideally off the US mainland. Dinosaurs would immediately upset the ecosystem, adding human beings as ready to serve meals. Large herbivores would ne extremely adorable, but disrupt the agricultural economy of California. Slow grazing Triceratops or Ankylosaurus could wipe out farms in the Central Valley. While exterminating such creatures would be the moral equivalent of murdering Golden Retrievers, the introduction of large herbivores would disrupt the economy, cause the loss of property, and possibly risk lives. Or they could be super cute and loyal. If the latter, farmers would figure out for life to find a way to coexist. If the former, expect Fish and Game to look more like Special Forces with anti-tank weapons to remediate dinosaur infestations.

Dinosaur Liability on Your Property

The mansion of Benjamin Lockwood served as an auction house for buyers of dinosaurs imported to California. Disregarding the fact a cargo ship could travel to California within 24 hours (which would require the ship to cross 4,300+ miles of ocean at a speed of 181.5 miles per hour or 157.788706 Knots), there are serious liability issues for those injured by dinosaurs. Moreover, the Pachycephalosaurus in the room is it is illegal to import animals that are either wild or endangered into the United States, or its territorial waters, or on the high seas. Safari Club Int’l v. Babbitt, No. 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21795, at *19-20 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 12, 1993), citing 50 C.F.R. § 10.12 and 16 U.S.C.S. § 1538(A)(1)(A), (B), and (C). Furthermore, the Secretary of the Interior can regulate the wild animals that are “injurious to human beings” to be prohibited from being imported into the United States. 18 U.S.C.S. § 42(a)(1). Cruising straight to a castle in Northern California with a ship full of dinosaurs that could eat, step on, or cause other blunt trauma to human beings, would violate US laws on dangerous wild animals entering the country.

Numerous auction attendees were eaten or maimed by dinosaurs at Lockwood manor. One of the few California cases where a guest was injured by an animal at a residence, a business or a hotel/motel was over a spider bite. Brunelle v. Signore, 215 Cal. App. 3d 122, 127 (1989). The Brunelle Court explained that in order for an owner of a private residence to have a duty to protect guests from spider bites, the owner must: 1) there must be specific knowledge the insect or sider is indigenous to the area; 2) the homeowner has knowledge that a specific harmful insect is prevalent in the area where his residence is located; 3) the homeowner knows the harmful inspect is inside or outside the home; and (4) either the homeowner of injured guest had seen the specific insect that bit the guest either before or after the bite occurred. Brunelle, at *129-30.

Eli Mills invited auction attendees to the Lockwood estate for the purpose of buying dangerous animals to be used in war or private big game hunting. The dangers of the dinosaurs were self-evident, given the known lethal abilities of the creatures, the dinosaurs were kept in cages to prevent injury, and it was established attendees knew of the dinosaurs there, as did Mills. As such, the entire auction of illegally imported wild animals would make Eli Mills strictly liable for all injuries. There is an argument Benjamin Lockwood’s estate in probate would not be liable, because Mills had breached his scope of employment in his management of Lockwood’s affairs.

Compassionate Californians who try rescuing dinosaurs should be warned that a “wild animal is presumed to be vicious and since the owner of such animal…is an insurer against the acts of the animal to anyone who is injured…” Baugh v. Beatty, 91 Cal. App. 2d 786, 791, (1949) (case involving an attack by a chimpanzee). Anyone who owns a “rescue dinosaur” that injures another person would be strictly liable for any damages caused by said dinosaur. If pet dinosaurs became an issue, states likely would classify them as exotic pets that are dangerous wild animals (like a ferret with rabies) and order the animals destroyed. (See, Raynor v. Maryland Dep’t of Health & Mental Hygiene, 110 Md. App. 165, 182 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1996)).

Federal Agencies would have a massive PSA campaign pursuant to Executive Order 13112 on the dangers of adopting dinosaurs and how to avoid injury, such as how not to be eaten by a Allosaurus while jogging, don’t try to ride a Stegosaurus, and high students should not do the Compsognathus saliva challenge.

Law Finds a Way

The purpose of law is to protect people from wrongs. Laws hold civil societies together. When people discover a situation where injuries happen, laws are enacted to prevent future harm. In the case of genetically created dinosaurs, laws would be enacted at the Federal and state levels to protect both human life, and the dinosaurs, to ensure both could live free of injury. That might not be an exciting movie, but law would find a law.