Home Cat owner PAWSHANK BUYOUT: $125,000 settled in government’s multi-year legal battle over tabby cat

PAWSHANK BUYOUT: $125,000 settled in government’s multi-year legal battle over tabby cat

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A Bellevue, Wash. woman has received a $125,000 settlement after a lengthy legal battle involving her tabby cat Miska, who was targeted by the city and county.

The infamous cat was at the center of a storm of legal hiss over a government agency’s pursuit of a family’s cat and its owner, costing tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to the county of King.

“Miska was the most sued cat in Bellevue and King County, probably in Washington state,” said Jon Zimmerman, attorney for cat owner Anna Danieli. The Ari Hoffman show on Talk Radio 570 KVI.

Zimmerman took the case in 2017. By then, Danieli had racked up over $30,000 in fines. Zimmerman added, “Adjacent neighbors have complained against Miska for alleged trespassing, for alleged taunting of other pets…a taunting cat…can you believe it? I mean, birds fly, no ?”

“We soon found out that Miska had been confined to King County Jail, or as I call it Guna-tabby-mo Bay, and the county wouldn’t release her…there had been two prosecutors assigned to the case. A lot of humans only have one prosecutor,” Zimmerman continued.

Danieli alleged government abuse due to ongoing lawsuits against her and her cat for several years by the City of Bellevue, King County, King County Regional Animal Services (RASKC), County Hearing Examiner de King, Gene Mueller (the director of RASKC), and Tim Anderson, senior field sergeant for RASKC.

Zimmerman told Hoffman, “County told me that Miska was a known ‘terror cat’ and that made me wonder if Miska was a member of Al-Cat-a.”

Bellevue is not a “right to roam” town, which means owners can be held liable for damages caused by their cats outside their property boundaries.

Zimmerman wondered who had something against the cat and it turned out it was Danieli’s neighbor, who was the head of animal control, and was filing his own complaints against Miska and pushing them through the system.

Miska has been in a “pen” since 2014. According to her attorneys, she was held in a “cat jail” for allegedly breaking into, injuring rabbits, chickens, ducks and other neighborhood animals. Miska was later given a ‘containment order’, essentially house arrest, requiring her owner to keep her in a secure fenced area ‘…with a padlock to prevent accidental release’, or on a leash when she is found. outside the boundaries of his property.

Hoffman pointed out that most families don’t have the resources to fight a case like this if it’s targeted by a city or county.

Danieli’s lawsuit asked a Pierce County judge to quash Miska’s violations and bar RASKC from prosecuting Miska before the King County Hearing Examiner. The lawsuit asked that RASKC’s determination that Miska is “vicious” be overturned, along with any order of dismissal by RASKC’s former or acting director.

Zimmerman told Hoffman, “The city and county actually made a federal case of Miska in front of a federal judge…sent the case to superior court.”

The parties eventually settled out of court, which Zimmerman says made Miska “…the richest cat in Washington State.”

Zimmerman hopes the lawsuit will lead to more transparency for pet owners about who files complaints against their pets. Zimmerman also discovered issues in Bellevue’s city code, that the citations did not align with the law, and now that a settlement is reached, is advocating for policy changes.

Hoffman replied, “Well, with a settlement of $125,000, we certainly experienced the buyout of Paw-shank.”