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 Levine v. Hewitt

Legal issues affecting pets,
companion animals, and their people

SM, Copyright 1998 - 2000,  Joel R. Zand, Esq.

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Actoręs New York lawsuit
to recover dog allegedly taken by caregiver / neighbor

In 1998, soap opera star and former "Chicago" musical actor Daniel Levine filed a lawsuit to determine his ownership rights to "Sidney", an adopted dog that he alleged his former neighbor refused to return to him.  Read the complaint below.


SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF NEW YORK
---------------------------------------------
DANIEL LEVINE,                            Index No.  115188 / 98

                               Plaintiff,               Date Purchased:

                      - against -                      Plaintiff designates
                                                             New York County as the place
                                                             of trial
MICHAELA HEWITT,
                                                             The basis of venue is
                                 Defendant.          Defendant's residence

                                                                    Summons
---------------------------------------
                                                                Defendant resides at
                                                                130 West 82nd Street
                                                                 New York, New York 10024
                                                                 County of New York
To the above named Defendant

      You are hereby summoned to answer the complaint in this action and to serve a copy their answer, or, if the complaint is not served with the summons, to serve the notice of appearance on the Plaintiff's Attorneys within 20 days after service if the summons, exclusive of the day of service (or within 30 days after this service is complaint if the summons is not personally deliberate to you within the state of New York): and in case of your failure to appear or answer, judgment will be taken against you by default for the relief demanded herein.


      Dated: August 10, 1998 STEPEHEN BILKIS & ASSOCIATES
      Attorneys for the Plaintiff
      100 Merrick Road,
      Suite 508 West
      Rockville Centre, NY 11570

MICHAELA HEWITT
130 West 82nd Street, Apt. 2R
New York, New York 10024

/s/ FILED
Aug. 18, 1998
County Clerk's Office
New York

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF NEW YORK
-----------------------------------------------
DANIEL LEVINE,                                              Index No.  115188 / 98

                               Plaintiff,                               Date Purchased:

                      - against -                                      Plaintiff designates
                                                                            New York County as the place
                                                                            of trial
MICHAELA HEWITT,
                                                                            The basis of venue is
                                 Defendant.                          Defendant's residence

                                                                            Summons
-----------------------------------------------

Plaintiff, Daniel Levine, complaining of the Defendant, MICHAELA HEWETT, by his attorneys, Stephen Bilkis & Associates, alleges as follows:

AS AND FOR A FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION


1.   That had all times relevant here to Daniel Levine (hereinafter referred to as "Plaintiff") is a resident of the state of New York, residing dance 130 West 82nd Street, Apt.1F, New York, NY 10024.

2.   Upon information and leaf, that that all times relevant here and the Defendant, MICHAELA HEWETT. (hereinafter referred to as "Defendant"), resided and continues to reside at 130 West 82nd straight, Apt. 2R, New York, NY 10024.

 3.  That on or about January 27, 1997 the Plaintiff adopted a conference Daniel makes canine from the North Shore Animal League, which the Plaintiff subsequently named "Sidney."  A copy of the Plaintiffs North Shore Animal League adoption application is annexed hereto as Exhibit "A."

4.   That on or about February 1,1997, the Plaintiff took "Sidney" for his first visit to Dr. Lowenstein at the Westside Veterinary Center located in New York, New York.  Copies of Dr. Lowenstein's file note with respect to "Sidney," naming the Plaintiff as owner of the animal, are annexed hereto as Exhibit "B."

5.   That the Plaintiff is employed as an actor and beginning in or around December of 1997 he obtained employment in a production of the musical "Chicago."  The aforementioned role required the Plaintiff to tour with the show for four (4) months, and then temporarily relocate to Los Angeles, California for a period of three (3) months.

6.    That the Plaintiff, during his absence from New York, was planning on leaving "Sidney" in the care of his parents who reside in Boston, Massachusetts.

7.    That after numerous discussions with the Defendant, who was a friend and neighbor of the Plaintiff, Mr. Levine agreed to temporarily leave "Sidney" in the Defendant's care while he was on tour with the show.

8.    That the parties agreed that the Defendant would begin caring for "Sidney" on or about December 18,1997 until such time has the Plaintiff settled in Los Angeles, at which time "Sidney" would be returned to Mr. Levine.

9.    That the Defendant agreed to temporarily care for the Plaintiff's pet according to very specific instructions which the Plaintiff outlined for the Defendant in a letter dated November 19,1997, a copy of which is annexed hereto as Exhibit "C".

10.  That the Plaintiff provided the Defendant with approximately forty (40) signed, blank checks to pay for any and all expenses incurred by the Defendant with respect to her caring for "Sidney," as well as to pay some of Mr. Levine's bills in his absence from New York.

11.  That the Plaintiff and need Defendant agreed that the arrangement was a temporary one everyone until such time as the Plaintiff settled in Los Angeles in or around June 1998.

12.  That upon Plaintiff settling in Los Angeles in or a round June 1998, the parties agreed that "Sidney" would be flown to Los Angeles to reside with the Plaintiff

13.  That the Plaintiff made necessary arrangements in anticipation that "Sidney" would be reached her into hand by the Defendant and residing within and more around June 1998, specifically, the Plaintiff rented on aptartment. which allowed him to have "Sidney" residing with him.  They copy of a declaration from the Plaintiff's current landlord in Los Angeles is annexed hereto as Exhibit "D."

14.  That while the Plaintiff was on tour with the show, he called the Defendant numerous times to check on his pet, "Sidney."  Copies of the Plaintiff's telephone records are annexed hereto as Exhibit "E."

15.  That wall leave Plaintiff was on tour with the show he returned to New York as many weekends and Mondays as possible to see "Sidney."

16.  That during these weekend trips to New York, the Plaintiff had "Sidney" in his possession in his apartment located at 130 West 82nd Street, New York New York.

17.  That at all times the Plaintiff was perfectly clear that his pet, "Sidney" was only in the Defendant's care on a temporary basis and that she would return "Sidney" to the Plaintiff in or around June 1998.

18.  That in or around the latter part of May 1998, the Plaintiff contacted the Defendant to discuss making arrangements for "Sidney" to be returned to him.

19.  That in or around the latter part of May 1998, the Defendant stated to the Plaintiff that she did not want to discuss it at that time because she was "going through an emotional period," but that she would return "Sidney" whenever the Plaintiff had decided that he was ready.

20.  That in or around the beginning of June 1998, the Plaintiff again contacted the Defendant to make the arrangements for the return of "Sidney," at which time the Defendant informed the Plaintiff that "Sidney" was suffering from a rash and that it would not be in the animal's best interests to travel to Los Angeles at that time.

21.  That the parties agreed that due to "Sidney's" condition, the Plaintiff would postpone making the arrangements for "Sidney" to be flown to Los Angeles for a one (1) week period.

22.  That in or around the latter part of June 1998, the Plaintiff began telephoning the Defendant each and everyday to discuss the status of "Sidney's" illness.

23.  That the Defendant refused to take any of the Plaintiff's aforementioned telephone calls regarding the status of his pet's health.

24.  That in or around the latter part of June 1998, the Defendant left a message upon the Plaintiff's answering machine stating that she had decided not to return "Sidney" to him, and if the Plaintiff had attempted to contact the police in an effort to retrieve his pet that she would lie and tell the authorities that the Plaintiff had abandoned  "Sidney."

25.  That in around the latter part of June 1998, the Plaintiff's father, Howard Levine, contacted the Defendant in an effort to retrieve "Sidney" on behalf of the Plaintiff, at which time the Defendant again stated that she would lie and say that the Plaintiff had abandoned the animal.

26.  That subsequent to be a aforementioned telephone conversation between the Plaintiff's father and the defendant, Mr. Howard Levine has attempted numerous times to contact the Defendant by telephone regarding the return of "Sidney," and all calls have been refused by the Defendant.

27.  That each and everyday for the past several weeks, the Plaintiff has a attempted to contact BT fend and regarding the return of his pet, and all calls have been refused by the Defendant.

28.  That the Plaintiff contacted the 20th Precinct of the New York City Police Department in an effort to retrieve his pet, "Sydney," at which time he was informed that the matter was a civil one which must be handled in Supreme Court.

29.  That on or about July 10, 1998 the Plaintiff contacted the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to assist him with the within action.

30.  That on or about bad July 22,1998, the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, in on effort to settle the matter without proceeding to court, sent the Defendant a letter demanding been return of "Sidney", the return of the Plaintiff's remaining checks, and the apartment, mailbox, and storage area keys which were in the Defendant's possession.  A copy of the letter is annexed hereto as Exhibit "F."

31.  That on or about July 25,1998, the Defendant returned to the Plaintiff the remaining checks, apartment keys and storage area keys, but refused to return the Plaintiff's pet, "Sidney" and the Plaintiff's mailbox key.

32.  That in spite the Plaintiff's ownership of "Sidney" and his repeated requests for the animal's return, that the Defendant refuses to return the Plaintiff's chattel to him.

33.  That the Plaintiff has no adequate remedy that long for the harm caused him by the Defendant, MICHAELA HEWETT, as a result of the Defendant's refusal to return "Sidney."

WHEREFORE the Plaintiff respectfully requests the following:

    1.  A judgment demanding the immediate return of his chattel.

    2.  Other and further relief as make court seems just and equitable, including costs, disbursements and the attorneys' fees

AS AND FOR A SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION

34.   Plaintiff repeats and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in paragraphs "1" through and including "33" as though fully set forth herein.

35.   That Defendant, since being notified of the Plaintiff's demand to have his chattel returned has behaved in a manner that is outrageous and would shock the conscious of a reasonable person.

36.   That the Defendant has refused to return the Plaintiff's phone calls' requesting the return of his dos "Sidney" and requesting information about "Sidney's" health and well-being.

37.   That the Defendant discontinued forwarding the Plaintiff's mail thus causing him to be delinquent on the payment of his debts.

38.   That the Defendant has made attempts to have the Plaintiff evicted from his apartment.

39.   That the Defendant has attempted to gain access to the Plaintiff's storage area despite not having permission from the Plaintiff to do so.

40.   That the Defendant, though acknowledging the great love and affection the Plaintiff has for "Sidney", has refused to return "Sidney" to his legal owner, the Plaintiff.

41.   That these acts on part of the Defendant were made with the intent to cause the Plaintiff great emotional distress.

42.   That these acts on the part of the Defendant caused the Plaintiff great emotional distress causing him physical injuries, namely, nausea and diarrhea.

43.   That the intentional acts on the part of the Defendant has caused the Plaintiff great emotional distress causing him to be unable to fully perform his duties as an actor in the musical play "Chicago."

44.   That the intentional acts on the part of the Defendant are extreme and outrageous and would shock the conscious of a reasonable person.

45.   That as a result of the aforesaid the Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer server emotional distress for the loss of companionship of "Sidney" and the uncertainty of his welfare and well-being.

WHEREFORE, the plaintiff respectfully requests the following.

      1.   A judgment in the amount of $1,000.000.00 (one million dollars) or such other sum as is within the jurisdictional limits of this court.

      2.   For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and equitable, including costs, disbursements and attorneys' fees.

Dated:Rockville Centre, New York
August 10, 1998

STEPHEN BILKIS & ASSOCIATES
100 Merrick Road (Suite 508W)
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
(516) 256-3800

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