Happy Lawyers Celebrate New Growth Industry
Forget the coffee, get ready for a real Monday morning jolt: a Seattle cat's death has led to a $45,000 courtroom award.
Call it kitty tort.
The circumstances are amazing: when Wallace Gray left town in February 2004, his housesitter was supposed to be minding the dog, but the animal got away and killed neighbor Paula Roemer's cat, Rofi.
Cat lady Roemer said the incident traumatized her, leading to nightmares and requiring counseling. Her attorney is a University of Washington professor, specializing in animal law, an obvious growth industry.
Gray actually spent 21 days in jail over this incident, after pleading guilty to an animal-control violation, according to the Seattle Times. That was followed by three months of house arrest.
Just another Seattle day, inside the stealth Canadian province of King County, where cats are a high priority and human life is cheap.
Roemer has a heartbreaking story about Rofi's original rescue from Israel and sneak-trip through American customs, followed by years of love and affection.
A sad tale, indeed, but is it worth ruining your neighbor's life? How many dark, grey, Seattle afternoons did it take for Roemer to reach this state of mind:
(Seattle Times- Warren Cornwall- Craig Welch- 9 May 2005)
Roemer said she sued Gray out of grief and frustration.
"I didn't go to court to get money," she said. "I could either burn his house down or I could go and shoot his dogs in front of him and shoot him, or I could shoot myself. So I decided to be rational and get a lawyer."
Now, the cremated ashes of Yofi rest in a small ceramic jar on a table in the living room of her small Northgate house. Behind it stands a large card with Yofi's name written across it and a montage of photos of Yofi inside.
The house is a testimony to her devotion to animals. A framed, hand-painted portrait of eight cats she has owned hangs in her bedroom. Boxes of cat-food cans rest on a spare bed in another room. A piece of cardboard sits in her living room near the television with detailed instructions on how to take care of the animals in case she can't.
Imagine if a suburban housewife from Bellevue or Kirkland had made that same comment? Would the Seattle media give her this kind of pass?
To me, it sounds like she could be a potential violent threat to her neighbors, regardless of what happens in the courtroom.
There's no doubt neighbors are responsible for their dogs, Gray didn't try to duck out of that, serving more time than most of the punks who break into Seattle's vehicles ever will. Now, it's Roemer that comes across as yet another vindictive eccentric from one of Seattle's increasingly bizarre, sheltered, liberal neighborhoods.