WASHINGTON — Embattled dog enthusiast Christina Fay insists in new legal filing that her lawsuit against the town of Wolfeboro belongs in a federal court in Washington, D.C., and should not be dismissed or moved to New Hampshire.
Fay, 62, was convicted in March of 2018 of neglecting about 75 Great Danes that she kept on the property of her $1.5 million Wolfeboro mansion. Most of the charges involved failing to provide care to specific dogs which suffered from various ailments like papiloma infections. Police, assisted by HSUS, raided her property in 2017. Another nine dogs were taken from a veterinarian’s office.
Fay was sentenced to a year in jail and required to pay $1.9 million for the upkeep of the dogs during the months leading up to her trial. Her sentence was suspended, but she appealed the verdict to the state Supreme Court. That appeal was heard in February, and the case is still pending.
In June, Fay filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, seeking $35 million for various alleged personal injuries and alleged violations of federal law. However, the case was moved in mid-July to District Court there.
Fay's attorney Paul Zuckerberg’s lawsuit says Fay’s rights to due process and equal protection were violated; that the defendants were involved in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations conspiracy and under common law committed theft, slander and caused her emotional harm.
Other named defendants are the HSUS, which is based in Washington. The HSUS’ attorney, Leana Elaine Stormont.
"The town has asked that the case against it be dismissed because the town shouldn’t be allowed to be sued in D.C.," said HSUS spokeswoman Anne West in an email to the Sun last week.
"In the alternative, the town has asked that the case be transferred to the federal district court in N.H. The HSUS is just asking for the case to be dismissed, period."
However, Fay's other attorney, I. Marshall Pinkus of Pinkus & Pinkus Attorneys of Indianapolis, filed a motion Sept. 9 asking the court to deny Wolfeboro's motion to dismiss. He states various reasons for that.
The first was that, when the town asked HSUS for help, it agreed to "defend HSUS against 'any and all claims' and that the agreement would be 'governed and construed' according to the laws of the District of Columbia."
Pinkus also argued that "due to the amount of defamatory, prejudicial pre-and-post trial publicity published continuously by New Hampshire media, Plaintiff cannot reasonably expect to get a fair and impartial jury in the Defendant's state," said Pinkus. "This Honorable Court presents a neutral and objective environment that can provide the Plaintiff with a fair and impartial jury."
Through its attorney, Katherine Yoder of Bonner Kiernan Trebach & Crociata, the town of Wolfeboro filed a motion in July asking Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court District of Columbia to dismiss the case or have it moved to the District of New Hampshire. The motion and supporting affidavits says that the D.C. court shouldn’t have jurisdiction over the case.
“Thus, the only facts in support of plaintiff’s assertion that the court has personal jurisdiction over Wolfeboro are the following: (1) Wolfeboro entered a single ageement with an entity that has a ‘main office’ in Washington, D.C.; (2) the agreement is governed and construed under District of Columbia law. Wolfeboro was ‘an agent’ of, and/or conspired with HSUS with respect to the removal of the plaintiff’s Great Danes,” wrote Yoder.
“Plaintiff alleges it was HSUS, not Wolfeboro, that ‘planned and directed’ the wrongful acts, and that HSUS did so from Washington, D.C. Virtually every other fact set forth in the plaintiff’s complaint takes place in New Hampshire.
“The agreement was executed in New Hampshire on June 16, 2017 ... The animal rescue operation that is the subject of the agreement took place in New Hampshire ... The agreement is insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over Wolfeboro.”
Yoder also argues that it would be “difficult and expensive” for Wolfeboro to have town employees testify in Washington.