The on-going case over Piper, the Sheltie, returns to the Franklin County Municipal Court on July 23 for an Evidentiary Hearing to determine the Replevin Claim filed by Veronica Covatch and Michelle Wilson against Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue/Penny Sanderbeck.

On October 28, Attorney Lloyd Cohen retired from the case after attempts to mediate a settlement failed. On November 12, Trial Attorney James Banks took over representation of the Plaintiffs.

On December 24, Attorney Banks amended the original complaint to include Franklin County Commissioners Marilyn Brown, Paula Brooks and John O’Grady along with the Franklin County Animal Shelter and then acting director, Deborah Finelli. Attorney Scott O. Sheets, for the County, filed a Motion to Dismiss which has yet to be considered.

During the course of the proceedings, the Defendants’ Attorney, John Bell made multiple filings followed by Responses filed by Attorney Banks. Attorney Banks charged that Motions filed by the Defendants were frivolous and were nothing more than attempts to delay Court Proceedings and prevent the return of Piper. Rulings on many of those Motions are still pending before the Court.

On March 12, the Court granted the Motion for Examination of Piper by the Plaintiffs’ Veterinarian. The examination has been held, however, the outcome of that inspection is not yet available.

On April 27, the Defendants COSR/Sanderbeck filed an Affidavit of Disqualification before the Ohio Supreme Court in an attempt to remove the sitting Judge, Hon. James O’Grady. Judge O’Grady had just scheduled a similar hearing to determine the Replevin Claim on May 1. Instead of waiting for the Ohio Supreme Court to rule on the Affidavit (which would have taken several additional months), Judge O’Grady recused himself immediately, thereby making the Affidavit filing moot. The case was immediately reassigned (by lots), giving the case to Hon. Michael T. Brandt, Administrative Judge of the Franklin County Municipal Court. Affidavit of Disqualification

On May 21, the first pre-trial hearing before Judge Brandt was again delayed when the newly added defendants (from the December 24 Motion to Amend) were inadvertently omitted from the mailing of notifications for that hearing.

The Court rescheduled the pre-trial hearing for July 23 so all parties in the litigation would be included. On June 25, all parties were notified by certified mail that “the Court will hold an Evidentiary Hearing on Plaintiffs’ Replevin Claim at the July 23, 2015 hearing, also no other claims before the Court will be heard per Judge Brandt”.

The Replevin Claim before the Court addresses who will retain possession of the “disputed goods” (Piper) pending disposition of the case.

This Action has not been addressed before the Court since the Counter Replevin Bond was posted by COSR/Sanderbeck on August 11. Should the Court decide to return Piper to the Plaintiffs on July 23, that bond shall remain with the Court to offset any damages or court costs deemed applicable should the Plaintiffs prevail.

During the weeks prior to the Evidentiary Hearing, a flurry of Motions and Contra Motions have been filed by both Defendants and Plaintiffs. These include filings by the Defendants’ Attorney for Counterclaims against the Plaintiffs. Counterclaims

Within Plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike and/or Dismiss the Counterclaims, one intriguing point arises where both Attorneys agree: the Defendants asked in the Counterclaims for damages in a monetary amount exceeding the jurisdiction of the Municipal Court. Plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike and/or Dismiss the Counterclaims and Sanctions 

Attorney Bell admitted the error in his filing and has subsequently filed a Motion for Leave to Amend his Counterclaim by dropping the amount sought from $25,000 in damages to $15,000 (to meet the Judicial limit of the Municipal Court). Bell Motion for leave to File amended counterclaims 

Attorney Bell also filed a Motion for Discovery Santions and In Limine claiming the Plaintiffs did not answer his second and third set of Interrogatories submitted to the Plaintiffs. Bell filing Discovery Sanctions and In Limine 

In his Memorandum Contra Motion for Discovery Sanctions, Attorney Banks asserts that Defendants’ must obtain prior Leave of the Court to request additional interrogatories beyond the set limit of 40 requests. As the Defendants never obtained that Leave, the Plaintiffs were under no obligation to respond. Attorney Banks, in his Conclusion, states that “…coupled with the deliberate falsehoods and/or omissions set forth in their instant motion, one must conclude that defendants’ Motion for Discovery Sanctions and In Limine is made in bad faith and for the sole purpose of delay, harrassment or oppression of plaintiff.” Memorandum Contra Motion for Discovery Sanctions and In Limine

On July 23, Judge Brandt will hold the Evidentiary Hearing on the Replevin Action. The remainder of the Motions and Filings will be determined at a later date.

Best in Show Daily will immediately update this case as soon as the Ruling by Judge Brandt becomes available.

The Court Documents filed in this case and additional media coverage including all Best in Show Daily articles are available for view on PipersLegacy.org.