Request to dismiss Allen defamation lawsuit is filed

Request to dismiss Allen defamation lawsuit is filed

Originally published November 30, 2007

By CHRISTINA EICHELKRAUT
PVT

Sherri Allen, the former president of the For Love of Cats and Kittens (FLOCK) cat sanctuary in Pahrump, is facing legislative opposition from KVBC Channel 3 in Las Vegas for her defamation suit against the station’s parent companies.

Allen is also suing Troy Snow, a photographer for the Best Friends Animal Society, as well as the society itself, on similar charges.

She is asking each of the defendants individually or as a group for $10,000 in punitive damages. All of the defendants, however, responded with a motion to dismiss Allen’s complaint.

She has not yet been charged formally for her alleged involvement in the Bond Street facility, where more than 400 cats were found in horrendous conditions last summer.

Nor has she been charged for the 100-plus cats that were taken from her private residence, despite her being arrested and booked on a like number of animal cruelty charges. But, Allen is fighting a legal battle to clear her name.

Allen ran the sanctuary from January 2006 until May 30, 2007. Two months later, the sanctuary was taken over by Nye County Animal Control, after the 400 cats were reported to be sick, starving, and/or dehydrated.

Because there were so many cats, animal control officers turned control of the facility over to the Best Friends Animal Society, which has posted workers and volunteers at the facility and nursing cats back to health and holding adoption events.

On Aug. 2, Allen was arrested and booked on charges of animal neglect after 117 cats and 11 other small animals were seized from her property.

In an attempt to clear Allen’s name, David Wiberg, ostensibly a friend or supporter of Allen, videotaped the animal control officers taking her cats away.

Allen then sent the video to Channel 3 to show that her cats were living in clean conditions and well cared for. The Las Vegas station aired a report about Allen’s arrest, but edited the video she submitted to include pictures taken by Best Friends photographer, Snow, of the sick cats at the FLOCK facility.

Allen is alleging that the news station’s report gave the impression her arrest was the result of the conditions at FLOCK, which is not true.

In addition, the edited video was posted on Channel 3’s Web site. Allen sent a cease and desist letter to the station, which did not broadcast a retraction.

Furthermore, Allen claims that because the photographs taken by Snow are copyrighted, and neither he nor Best Friends made any attempt to enforce the copyright, the animal rescue organization was an accomplice in the defamation.

In their motion to dismiss the suit, however, the defendants argue that Allen did not properly file the motion, claiming it was “slung together by someone with enough legal acumen to ‘cut and paste’ various claims for relief…but not enough legal training to understand the underlying principles.”

Allen rebuts this claim by pointing out case law was accurately cited when necessary.

Secondly, Channel 3 and Best Friends argued that Sheri Allen is a limited public figure, which Allen concedes to in her rebuttal.

Finally, Snow and Best Friends, who motioned to join Channel 3’s parent company’s dismissal of the suit, pointed out that nowhere in her complaint does Allen claim any of the information or photographs are untrue.

“Publication to a third party of an untrue statement of fact is necessary to sustain an action for defamation,” the animal rights’ group motion argues, adding that “If no false statements were published then no defendant can be liable for defamation.”

Allen, however, claims that by editing the video in such a manner, Channel 3 should have known the information would be perceived by a reasonable person incorrectly, and as such was false.

“The bottom line is they (Channel 3) provide no reason for altering (Allen’s) video and … knew or had to know that their actions could cause some public embarrassment and emotional damage, yet they essentially blame (Allen) and claim she should shrug it off because she should be ‘hardened,'” Allen’s rebuttal states.

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