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UPDATE: Banned Animal Shelter Workers Win Lawsuit Against Hempstead Town

Offer of judgment accepted after two years of litigation.

A protest outside of the shelter. Credit: Tara Conry
A protest outside of the shelter. Credit: Tara Conry
After two years of ongoing litigation, the three banned volunteer animal rescue workers from Hempstead Town Animal Shelter have won their case against the town.

It was announced Tuesday that the plaintiffs -- Diane Madden of East Meadow, Lucille DeFina of Merrick and Frances Lucivero‐Pelletier of Levittown -- had accepted an offer of judgment that their lawyer, Steven Morelli, referred to as a "total victory against the Town of Hempstead, Town Supervisor Kate Murray and various town officials."

Court documents state that the settlement totalled $150,000, including attorney's fees. A breakdown of the offer is as follows:
  • $36,456 to Madden
  • $36,460 to DeFina
  • $8,750 to Lucivero‐Pelletier
  • $68,334 to Morelli in attorney's fees
The trio filed a lawsuit against the town in U.S District Court in December 2010, claiming that they were penalized by the town for speaking out about alleged abuse at the shelter. The lawsuit also alleges that lies have been spread about the three women by Hempstead officials. According to a release from Morelli:

        While a trial of this action would have surely publicized the inappropriate going on at the Hempstead Animal Shelter, given the public report of the comptroller and the total capitulation of the defendants, the plaintiffs have decided to accept the offer of judgment, securing their win and the ability to focus on the animals.

Morelli's reference to the comptroller's report comes after a November 2012 audit of the animal shelter by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, in which high operational costs, a mismanagement of overtime expenses and poor record-keeping were among problems found.

Despite the victory in court, Madden says their work is just beginning.

"The absolute refusal on the part of Hempstead officials to allow public oversight leaves us no choice but to continue our efforts to be the voice from the animals," she said.

Mike Deery, Communications Director for the Town of Hempstead, released the following statement Tuesday afternoon in regards to the settlement:

"The Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter offers top-notch care for cats and dogs at its Wantagh facility. The township is satisfied that the settlement of a legal case involving the shelter indicates no wrongdoing on the part of the plaintiffs or the town. Indeed, reviews of the shelter have found no mistreatment or neglect of animals. On the contrary, the Humane Society of the United States recently honored shelter officials for the superlative care they provided to animals who fell victim to Hurricane Sandy.

"The town looks forward to continuing to provide excellent care for animals at its municipal shelter."

This story was updated at 3:05 p.m. on Jan. 8 with a statement from the Town of Hempstead.

Laurie Lat January 10, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Well said animal lover. Instead of firing Pat Horan, they put her in another job. Please view the kill the kitty video and see her in action. Fire Pat Horan.
Alice Plimpton January 10, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The HSUS "honored" this abusive shelter for their Hurricane Sandy relief work? HSUS and disaster relief are like Bernie Madoff and wealthy investors. HSUS embarked on a MASSIVE e-mail and media fundraising campaign starting the day of Hurricane Sandy. They did the same thing with Katrina, raising $35 million and spending 20% of it on the intended purpose. HSUS was investigated by the Louisiana Attorney General for 18 entire months and could not document or back up their (vague) claims for how 80% of that windfall was spent. HSUS escaped criminal charges on the dubious but technically legal argument that they weren't raising money for Katrina but for their disaster program as a whole. HSUS's disaster money grab for Sandy is even bigger than the amount they fleeced for Katrina. I doubt that more than 10% was even necessary to temporarily house a few hundred animals. HSUS avoided the brazen lies their corrupt CEO made for HSUS's Katrina work and their donation page featured a disclaimer stating that donations can be used for "other disasters." HSUS is a fundraising factory and activist lobby that exploits high-profile disasters and "rescues" to rake in huge amounts of money, diverting countless millions from legitimate charities. They use disasters and cruelty cases to perpetuate the myth that they are the umbrella group for shelters and rescues, and the lead disaster organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Honoring other groups for their work after Sandy is unbelievably arrogant, again a way to misrepresent themselves as some kind of central agency for relief work. If an individual or company were to go around raising tens of millions for a disaster and keep 90% of it, they would be charged with a felony. "Charities" are generally able to use loopholes to maneuver their way out of fundraising fraud charges, even when they are 100% guilty. HSUS and the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter are both morally bankrupt entities run by uncaring, incompetent and dishonest people. How fitting that this cruel "shelter" and it's enablers use the HSUS endorsement as a shield.
judy lustgarten January 11, 2013 at 02:50 PM
OF COURSE THEY'LL DENY mistreatmenet, neglect, other. HSUS = backs Michael Vik ... so HSUS isn't an organization that TRUE ANIMAL ADVOCATES/ ACTIVISTS are impressed with ... as we know more of the goingson of the org. So the last statement .. that HSUS is behind them and giving them awards ... MEANS NOTHING in the big picture! ENOUGH HIDDEN AGENDA'S!!! In this day and age … It’s time for a new regime! Laws MUST be made with: WISDOM, RESPONSIBILITY, AND COMPASSION With BALANCE & FAIRNESS ENOUGH SELFISH GREED & HIDDEN AGENDA's It’s time for more empathy in this world! A brighter awareness A NEW WAY … A NEW MINDSET ... A NEW REGIME!
judy lustgarten January 11, 2013 at 02:56 PM
It's time for ANIMAL RIGHTS! TIME FOR A NEW REGIME!!!! –Abraham Lincoln: I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being. –Michael Pollan: A growing and increasingly influential movement of philosophers, ethicists, law professors and activists are convinced that the great moral struggle of our time will be for the rights of animals.
Susan Layton June 19, 2013 at 03:08 PM
All animal abuse should be reported, all cover ups too. The abusers should pay. They were very brave people that exposed the abuse. They deserve an award.

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