Did you see in the news last week where a New Jersey teenager sued her parents? Rachel Canning, 18, alleged in her lawsuit that her parents forced her out of their Lincoln Park, New Jersey home, and that she was unable to support herself financially. Canning, an honor student and cheerleader at Morris Catholic High School in Denville, said in court documents she had to leave her parents’ home because of emotional and psychological mistreatment.
The lawsuit has since been dismissed, Canning and her parents have reconciled and everyone is happy. Especially the lawyers, who, I am certain, were compensated handsomely for their role in the whole frivolous mess.
Personally, I do not take an incident like this lawsuit lightly. I have long worried that one day one of my own boarders, in the form of a pet, might get ambitious and initiate legal action. Not too long ago, I had an opportunistic cat who I am sure would have pursued this “get rich quick” angle had she thought of it. I suspect it would have gone something like this:
Case # 556342 Docket 539 — LUCY THE CAT VS. ALBURY
Judge: Will the counsel for the plaintiff please read the complaint.
Cat’s lawyer: My client, Mr. Albury’s cat named Lucy, charges that through a pattern of negligence, poor treatment, and condescending actions over a period of time she has suffered severe and irreparable mental anguish and emotional duress.
Judge: How does your client plead?
My lawyer: He usually starts by getting on his knees to grovel and whine for a bit, and then …
Judge: I mean how does he plead to the charges?
My lawyer: Not guilty, your honor.
Judge: Mr. Albury, will you please take the stand?
Me: That’s very nice of you, judge, but my house is really rather small and I don’t think I have room or a flower pot for the stand. However, I do kind of like that chair the stenographer is sitting in, or maybe…
Judge: Sit down.
Me: Yes, sir.
Cat’s lawyer: Mr. Albury, Lucy alleges that on one particular occasion she began to convulse and wretch and you brutally scooped her up and threw her out a window. Is this true?
Me: She was about to get sick on the carpet...
Cat’s lawyer: Just answer the question. Did you throw my client, who was merely trying to dislodge a hairball, and who weighs one fortieth of your weight, out a window?
Me: Well, yes, but we live in a ranch, so it was a ground floor window, and you know what they say about cats always landing on their feet …
Cat’s lawyer: And was the window open at the time?
Me: That was sort of a misunderstanding…
Cat’s lawyer: And isn’t it true, on another occasion, you neglected to compensate my client for exterminating services rendered?
Me: She dropped a dead mouse on my pillow in the middle of the night…
Cat’s lawyer: Answer the question. Was my client ever, in any manner, paid for this service?
Me: No, she wasn’t. Although I did want to give her something, like a swift kick…
Cat’s lawyer: And isn’t it true, in a blatant act of mistreatment, you plied my unsuspecting client with a regulated illicit substance concealed in a toy, and then laughed as she staggered around the room and grinned uncontrollably?
Me: I gave her a catnip mouse…
Cat’s lawyer: No further questions, your honor.
Judge: Counsel, call the first witness.
Cat’s lawyer: I’d like to ask that the family dog, Yogi, take the stand.
Me: Oh, no …
Cat’s lawyer: Yogi, may I ask you how you would describe the living conditions at the Albury house?
Yogi: To tell you the truth, it’s pretty grim. You see, my master is a bit of a slob. He leaves his socks and underwear on the floor, and …
My lawyer: I object, your honor. It is obvious that the plaintiff’s attorney is merely using the witness’ testimony as a means to air my client’s dirty laundry.
Me: Give me a break.
Judge: Order in the court! Mr. Albury, one more outburst from you and I will find you in contempt. As it is, I think I’ve heard enough. I find for the plaintiff and order the defendant to turn over all of his worldly goods to the feline, including his Allman Brothers CDs, his Sammy Sosa autographed baseball, and any loose change found between the seat cushions of the living room sofa.
Outrageous? Yes. Possible? Who is to say? All I know is that the dog has a very devious look on his face as I am writing this column. I think I’ll get him a T-bone steak for supper just to be on the safe side.
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.
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