Plaintiff alleges against all
Defendant Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP ("SMRH") is a
California limited liability partnership whose principal place of business is
Los Angeles, California.
employed Defendants Aaron Malo and Justine Casey as attorneys to represent
Defendant Animal Critical Care Center, Inc. ("All-Care"), a California
corporation doing business as All-Care Animal Referral Center and All-Care's
chief of staff, Defendant veterinarian Robert L. Rook ("Rooks").
true names and capacities of Defendants sues as DOES are unknown to Plaintiff,
but believed responsible for the acts and damages alleged.
information and belief, Defendants were the partners, agents, and employees of
each of the other Defendants and were acting within the course and scope of such
agency and employment.
All-Care and Rooks have been sued many times in small claims and superior courts
for various claims such as fraud, negligence, and breach of contract by
victimized pet owners.
Because most victims can not afford attorneys to prosecute their claims, most
victims file actions in small claims, rather than superior court.
actions filed by victims and the related complaints to the Veterinary Medical
Board of the State of California led to an
filed by the California Attorney General against Rooks and All-Care for
fraud, falsifying medical records, aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice
of veterinary medicine, and false or misleading advertising
("Accusation", Exhibit A).
December 16, 2000, Plaintiff and Kerry Wetteland hired All-Care to euthanize and
cremate their companion dog Tango and return her ashes to them.
All-Care euthanized Tango, but never returned her ashes to Plaintiff and Ms.
Wetteland who each claimed damages for All-Care's actions.
All-Care and Rooks settled Ms. Wetteland's claim for $750 without litigation,
but refused to settle with Plaintiff.
December 4, 2001, Plaintiff filed an action against All-Care and Rooks entitled,
Higgins v. Rooks; All-Care Animal Referral Center, Small Claims Court
#01WS05885 ("Small Claims Action"), scheduled for trial on January 14,
information and belief, because Defendants were worried about the pending
Accusation and the volume of small claims actions filed by victims, they devised
a malicious scheme to discourage Plaintiff from pursuing his small claims
action. Defendants' scheme included filing a frivolous lawsuit and bad
faith appeal, ignoring trial subpoenas and notices to appear at trial, and
illegally using an attorney to defend against the Small Claims Action.
Defendants maliciously filed a frivolous action against Plaintiff and Ms.
Wetteland entitled, Animal Critical Care Center, Inc.; Robert Rooks v. Andrew
Higgins; Kerry Wetteland in Superior Court, County of Orange # 02CC01433
seeking over $25,000 plus punitive damages ("Malicious Action") on
Friday, January 11, 2002, one court day prior to Plaintiff's small claims trial.
Although the Malicious Action failed to state a proper claim against Plaintiff,
Defendant served it only on Plaintiff, not Ms. Wetteland.
January 14, 2002, Defendants requested the Small Claims Court to consolidate the
Small Claims Action with the Malicious Action in an attempt to prevent the small
information and belief, Defendants' objective was to cause Plaintiff to dismiss
his claim rather than incur the time, costs, and attorney fees to defend against
the consolidated action in Superior Court.
Small Claims Court denied consolidation and found that the Malicious Action was
"filed against the plaintiff simply for the purposes of delay and in order
to allow defendants discovery which is unavailable in a small claims
and All-Care veterinarian Dr. Borostyankoi failed to obey subpoenas to testify
at the small claims trial.
Defendants Malo and SMRH illegally defended All-Care and Rooks at the small
Small Claims Court awarded Plaintiff $500 against All-Care and Rooks which they
information and belief, All-Care and Rooks appealed the award in bad faith.
appeal caused Plaintiff to retain counsel for he appeal/trial de novo scheduled
for April 19, 2002.
and Dr. Borostyankoi failed to obey a notice to appear to testify at the appeal.
April 19, 2002, All-Care and Rooks dismissed their appeal, but only after
Plaintiff appeared at the appeal.
Plaintiff erroneously believed that no response to the Malicious Action was
necessary because the Court had denied consolidation of the Small Claims Action
on January 14, 2002.
February 15, 2002, Defendants requested default in the Malicious Action, 32 days
after service on Plaintiff.
27. Defendants' request for default caused
Plaintiff to retain counsel to defend against the Malicious Action.
February 22, 2002, Plaintiff's counsel requested Defendants to stipulate to
vacate default due to Plaintiff's innocent mistake.
Defendants would not agree unless Plaintiff would forgo filing a demurrer to
their Malicious Action. Plaintiff refused.
February 28, 2002, Defendants offered to dismiss the Malicious Action (with
damages over $25,000) in exchange for Plaintiff's release of his $500 small
claims judgment. Plaintiff refused.
Malicious Action lacked probable cause against Plaintiff because Defendants
alleged no wrongful conduct by Plaintiff.
Malicious Action lacked probable cause against Plaintiff because Defendants
fabricated damages caused by Plaintiff.
Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate default and his proposed demurrer in the
opposition to the motion to vacate, Defendants requested sanctions and argued to
preclude Plaintiff from filing a demurrer because "such pleadings would
lack any good faith basis in law or fact."
the Court tentatively ruled in favor of Plaintiff on his motion to vacate,
Defendants requested and scheduled oral argument for May 31, 2002.
information and belief, Defendants' motive in requesting dismissal of the
Malicious Action and increase Plaintiff's costs and fees.
May 31, 2002, the Court finalized its tentative ruling, granted Plaintiff's
motion to vacate default, and denied Defendants' requests.
On June 7, 2002, Defendants noticed Plaintiff's deposition and production of
documents for June 28, 2002 prior to the hearing on Plaintiff's successful
demurrer to the Malicious Action.
Defendants refused to produce either Rooks or Dr. Borostyankoi for deposition
until after they had deposed Plaintiff.
opposition to Plaintiff's demurrer to the Malicious Action, Defendants
characterized the demurrer as "baseless" and argued that Plaintiff was
"a profoundly disturbed individual fixated on the memory of a dead
the court tentatively ruled in favor of Plaintiff sustaining his demurrer to the
Malicious Action, Defendants requested and scheduled oral argument for August 9,
information and belief, Defendants' motive in requesting oral argument on the
demurrer was to delay the inevitable dismissal of the Malicious Action and
increase Plaintiff's costs and fees.
August 9, 2002, the Court finalized its tentative ruling and sustained
Plaintiff's "baseless" demurrer with 20 days leave to amend.
information and belief, the Court ordered Defendants to notify Plaintiff of
its ruling, but Defendants never did so, despite several requests by
August 16, 2002, Defendants falsely told Plaintiff's counsel that Plaintiff's
demurrer had been overruled.
Defendants never amended their Malicious Action.
August 28, 2002, Plaintiff's counsel appeared at a court-ordered Evaluation
Conference, but Defendants' counsel did not appear.
August 29, 2002, Defendants dismissed the Malicious Action.
Defendants' malicious conduct damaged Plaintiff $15,000 in attorney fees and
Defendants' malicious conduct entitles Plaintiff to punitive damages.
THUS, PLAINTIFF PRAYS FOR JUDGMENT:
1. The sum of $15,000.
2. Punitive damages.
3. Costs and attorney fees.
4. Such other relief as the Court deems proper.