Based on information uncovered in litigation, Plaintiff is now seeking approval of the Court to add claims to her original complaint that King County Animal Control’s targeting of her and her brown tabby cat, Miska, were a violation of her Civil Rights.
Based on information uncovered over the last several months of litigation, Anna Danieli, the owner of a brown tabby cat from Bellevue, is requesting that the Court allow her to amend her complaint to include claims for violations of her civil rights. On February 5th, 2021, Danieli filed a motion in Pierce County Superior Court seeking permission from the Court to amend her existing complaint against King County and the other Government Defendants. Danieli’s case has recently been reassigned to Pierce County Superior Court Judge Timothy Ashcraft.
A copy of the proposed amended complaint was attached to Danieli’s Motion, which set out the basis of her claims that King County and other government actors, including Defendant Gene Mueller, violated her civil rights when she and her cat, Miska, were targeted with excessive enforcement, in part because Mueller is both a neighbor of Danieli and the head of Regional Animal Services of King County (“RASKC”). “We believe that this is a case where the use of government police powers and other government resources in a neighborhood dispute were influenced by the fact that the head of King County Animal Control was interested in the outcome as a neighbor of the our client,“ asserts attorney Jon Zimmerman, one of the attorneys representing Anna Danieli. The case garnered earlier attention due to the substantial amount of government resources spent prosecuting a neighborhood cat. (See: Article). At one point, two separate King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys were simultaneously assigned to prosecute Miska and her owner, Anna Danieli. “We have found no cat in King County that has been prosecuted or cited like Miska,” said Zimmerman, referring to the approximate 30 citations issued by RASKC officers to Miska over several years, of the approximate 50 overall citations issued to cats in King County during the same time period. (See: Article).
Troubling New Evidence Discovered
What was unknown at the time that Danieli initially filed her lawsuit in 2019 was the role that Mueller and others had played in the extensive targeting of Danieli and her cat Miska. In the course of ongoing litigation, evidence has been produced indicating that Mueller, as one of Danieli’s neighbors, was one of the neighbors filing complaints, which were then being prosecuted by his own agency. His involvement as a simultaneous complainant and as head of RASKC was not revealed to Danieli until much later. Additional evidence has also revealed that Danieli’s neighbors were being solicited and encouraged by RASKC employees to file complaints against Danieli and Miska. However, one of the most disturbing revelations was that Mueller had allegedly shown RASKC employees, including an Animal Control Officer, a photograph on his phone of Mueller’s wife holding a rifle and then indicating to employees “that this was a ‘solution’ to the Danieli ‘cat problem.’” This Animal Control Officer was later assigned to the RASKC complaint that had been personally filed by Mueller. Based on this and other evidence that has surfaced, Danieli believes that this excessive and disproportionate enforcement, which singled her out like no other cat owner in King County, is the basis of a civil rights claim against King County, Mueller, and other Government Defendants.
Danieli Lawsuit Has Already Succeeded in Requiring the City of Bellevue to Update and Correct City Code.
Prior to bringing this most current Motion, Danieli had previously succeeded in obtaining a Declaratory Judgement and Injunction that found the City of Bellevue’s Code to be invalid, and which enjoined the King County Hearing Examiner from hearing any further Animal Control Appeals coming out of Bellevue until the city updated and corrected the Bellevue City Code. Because of this successful Motion for Partial Summary Judgement and the resulting Court Order, the City of Bellevue updated its City Code in early December 2020. Since the time of that successful motion, the case has continued as Danieli has pursued her tort claims against the Government Defendants, and if approved by the Superior Court at an upcoming hearing, she will pursue her civil rights claims against the Government Defendants as well. “We have been very happy with the results that we have been able to obtain for our client to-date, including the much-needed changes to Bellevue’s law, but we have been particularly troubled about the discoveries we have made over the last few months concerning the events were happening behind the scenes while our client was the subject of such intense prosecution by Animal Control,” said Jeffrey Possinger, another attorney whose firm represents Danieli. “Despite the earlier wins, there is still a lot of work yet to do in order to get a full measure of justice for our client and her family.”
A hearing is scheduled for February 19th, 2021 at 9:00 AM in Pierce County Superior Court to hear Daniel’s Motion to Amend her Pleadings.
- Litigation and Dispute Resolution