Two attorneys for an elderly Vista woman who filed a lawsuit claiming defamation and one attorney responding for the PETA Foundation were in court today, October 16.
The attorneys for Lurlie Adams, who sold her chinchilla-raising business in August, were in court requesting an “order of preference” which seeks to hurry along their civil case so that it will go to trial in 120 days or less.
In a new declaration filed yesterday, plaintiff Lurlie Adams informed the court: “My chinchillas were purchased and then PETA and Mr. Simon falsely claimed my chinchillas were being mistreated and they conducted a ‘rescue’ operation.”
It has been alleged that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals used funds from Hollywood producer Sam Simon to buy the woman’s business and then a “rescue” was staged as a promotional stunt, to encourage donations to PETA.
“We are troubled that PETA and the other defendants abused our client and portrayed her in a false light to further their selfish goals of raising monies for their organizations,” attorney Michael Curran stated today.
Michael and Susan Curran represent the elderly plaintiff, who is seeking millions of dollars in damages.
“My client is over the age of 90 and clearly has medical issues,” said Michael Curran.
In her declaration, Adams claimed the “misconduct” has caused her “extreme stress, sleeplessness, irregular heartbeats and elevated blood pressure.”
The plaintiff described her 95-year-old husband as a “material, percipient witness” and she hopes he “will survive” and be able to testify at trial.
The attorney for PETA Foundation,
Matthew Strugar, pointed out that this civil case was filed in the same courthouse just last week, and he informed the court that “corporate defendants are all represented by insurance” and “there are some things that need to be worked out.”
The opposing attorney quickly retorted, “Their problems with insurance is not the concern of my 90-year-old plaintiff.”
Attorney Philip J. Hirschkop stated, “I have represented People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for over 30 years.” His signed declaration, filed with the court, was dated yesterday, October 15. Hirschkop also stated, “Counsel cannot be retained without the approval of the insurance company for any of the defendants.”
“They are going to try to delay this,” attorney Michael Curran pleaded to the judge.
The attorney based in Virginia, Hirschkop, also made statements that seemed skeptical of the plaintiff’s frailty. In his declaration, he reported that he had spoken by phone with attorney Michael Curran, who “stated that his client was over 70 and he was filing a certificate as to her health. I told him that she seemed quite active in a video I had seen….”
PETA has posted online a video of their “rescue operation” at the chinchilla ranch, which included clandestine footage of the elderly woman, who apparently was giving a tour of her facility.
On August 1, Adams signed the purchase agreement to sell her business, Valley View Chinchilla Ranch in Vista, for the sum of $50,750.
Superior court judge Timothy Casserly told attorneys today, “I intend to move this case expeditiously.” He opined that the plaintiff “is living on borrowed time as it is.”