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UPDATE: Banned Animal Shelter Workers Win Lawsuit Against Hempstead Town

Offer of judgment accepted after two years of litigation.

After two years of ongoing litigation, the three banned volunteer animal rescue workers from Hempstead Town Animal Shelter have won their case against the town.

It was announced Tuesday that the plaintiffs -- Diane Madden of East Meadow, Lucille DeFina of Merrick and Frances Lucivero‐Pelletier of Levittown -- had accepted an offer of judgment that their lawyer, Steven Morelli, referred to as a "total victory against the Town of Hempstead, Town Supervisor Kate Murray and various town officials."

Court documents state that the settlement totalled $150,000, including attorney's fees. A breakdown of the offer is as follows:

  • $36,456 to Madden
  • $36,460 to DeFina
  • $8,750 to Lucivero‐Pelletier
  • $68,334 to Morelli in attorney's fees

The trio filed a lawsuit against the town in U.S District Court in December 2010, claiming that they were penalized by the town for speaking out about alleged abuse at the shelter. The lawsuit also alleges that lies have been spread about the three women by Hempstead officials.

According to a release from Morelli:

While a trial of this action would have surely publicized the inappropriate going on at the Hempstead Animal Shelter, given the public report of the comptroller and the total capitulation of the defendants, the plaintiffs have decided to accept the offer of judgment, securing their win and the ability to focus on the animals.

Morelli's reference to the comptroller's report comes after a November 2012 audit of the animal shelter by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, in which high operational costs, a mismanagement of overtime expenses and poor record-keeping were among problems found.

Despite the victory in court, Madden says their work is just beginning.

"The absolute refusal on the part of Hempstead officials to allow public oversight leaves us no choice but to continue our efforts to be the voice from the animals," she said.

Mike Deery, Communications Director for the Town of Hempstead, released the following statement Tuesday afternoon in regards to the settlement:

"The Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter offers top-notch care for cats and dogs at its Wantagh facility. The township is satisfied that the settlement of a legal case involving the shelter indicates no wrongdoing on the part of the plaintiffs or the town. Indeed, reviews of the shelter have found no mistreatment or neglect of animals. On the contrary, the Humane Society of the United States recently honored shelter officials for the superlative care they provided to animals who fell victim to Hurricane Sandy.

"The town looks forward to continuing to provide excellent care for animals at its municipal shelter."

This story was updated at 3:05 p.m. on Jan. 8 with a statement from the Town of Hempstead.

Janice January 13, 2013 at 01:42 PM
I can help but to question the use of the name DA which should not be construed to mean District Attorney Kathleen Rice, or should it. Given the context of your postings it would come as no surprise the poster is not DA but a Town employee.
Felix Procacci January 13, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Why is there a 3 year contract for $3,800 per month to remove dead animals? This number alone implies the removal of about 70 animals per month. Being that the shelter can hold about 300 dogs and cats, that is about a 25% death rate (by killing and natural causes). If you consider that the shelter intake is about 3500 animals per year, the death rate(by all causes) is about 24%. These NUMBERS WERE PROVIDED BY THE KATE MURRAY GOVERNMENT. You can talk in subjective terms all you want but the NUMBERS coming from the government you are defending contradict what you are saying. The incompetance of the KATE MURRAY administration that allowed the doubling of the Animal Shelter budget in only 8 years with little of that going to benefit of the animals shows the lack of caring the Town government has for its' residents and the animals in the shelter.
Maddie's momma January 13, 2013 at 03:00 PM
I understand the point of the lawsuit was to make the alleged mistreatment of the animals known, not to win $, but I can't help noticing the attorneys are the big winners, as usual.
Jerome J. Levenberg January 13, 2013 at 04:52 PM
This was not a judgment after a trial on the merits, but a settlement for peanuts. No matter how it is being spinned, it is a victory for the town.
S.M. January 13, 2013 at 05:01 PM
More tax money well spent...I just cant take it anymore. Kate Murray just loves spending other people's money ...plain and simple. She's got a great gig at our expense, "company car," influence in building permits (go take a look at her monstrosity house in Levittown. Multiple variances in record time.hmmm). Folks, it's obvious the TOH is a corrupt political machine but why is it this woman continually gets reelected? Shame on those who continue to vote for these crooks. Ever think of running for office Felix?
Felix Procacci January 13, 2013 at 05:08 PM
The Judgment was pursuant to Rule 68 (with NO STIPULATIONS). It is equivalent to a jury them finding them guilty on ALL CHARGES (THERE WERE NO STIPULATIONS). If Michael Deery keeps spinning the truth, and most residents believe him then it becomes a victory for the Town. If residents are well informed, then the Town has been defeated. It is all a matter of perception, NOT reality. The reality is, THE TOWN LOST.
Amy January 13, 2013 at 05:40 PM
I am confused. These three ladies were volunteers or employees at the shelter? I was told not to long ago that the shelter just implemented a volunteer program. A few ladies came over from Last Hope, one of then in charge of the volunteer program. Someone please clarify for me.... As for the budget, I was so confused that the shelter was asking for donations during Hurricane Sandy. While the shelter took in animals it had no room for (and it should have been there job to do so), why 7 million dollars decant cover blankets, bedding and food (all temporary) I do not know. Also, the shelter was out of electric for quite some time after Sandy hit. To me, it seemed so unimportant for the town to have backup generators or to get on LIPA's rear to fix the electric for the animals. And please, don't comment and say the animals gave coats to keep them warm. That statement would make you uneducated.
Amy January 13, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Monstrosity house? She has an average Levit cape with a half dormer out the back.
Amy January 13, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Spelling errors, please excuse them. I hope you all knew what I meant to type :)
randy January 13, 2013 at 07:27 PM
when will you all realize that as long as she is in office nothing will change, employees take home their trucks every day and come home for lunch at taxpayers expenses for gas and maintenance. Why do these people have to take home their trucks . they are maintenance or highway men, I could see it if snow is on the way, but all year long? We need to get a man in their that cares about the town and get rid of all the cronies, I recently had to drop off a tire at the dump in Merrick, each employee I met there not one said hello, or a smile, nothing..........".bring the tire over there" as he sits in his chair, meanwhile I drove over large holes and sprayed mud all over my car.....nothing is maintained.there.....TOH overated, still roads are a mess and branches sitting in front of peoples houses. Time for a Change...........
Laurie Lat January 13, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Point of the lawsuit, the rescuers were banned, this is a free country, THAT was the point. How dare they ban them just because they saw too much. I am so glad they fought and won. I guess the town thought it would be so easy just to ban them and they would go away. Not these woman. They fough a long battle and won. Now if we could get Pat Horan fired and Kate out of office, I would even be happier.
Cathy G January 13, 2013 at 10:19 PM
How do you know whether the Town of Hempstead shelter is "high kill", "low kill" or "No kill"? I have publicly asked Kate Murray to provide the documents which support ther claims and she refuses to. Yes, theoretically, everyone who wants to know can have a new part time job FOILING documents to figure out what is happening to the animals at the Town of Hempstead Shelter. Practically, it can't be done. You can bet that if the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter were truly No Kill , or the adoption and kill numbers were something to be proud of, Kate Murray would eagerly be posting the documents next to her name on every sign in the Town of Hempstead.
Felix Procacci January 13, 2013 at 11:20 PM
That "successful TNR program" you speak of has a 6-9 month waiting list. Most of the money goes towards the do-nothing jobs that have nothing to do with the care of animals. The proof is public, it is in the budget. Over 70% of the 3 million dollar payroll goes towards administration jobs that contribute little if nothing towards the care of the animals. No other shelter on Long Island has that many administrative positions. Go look it up, Brookhaven and Islip publish their budgets online. No other shelter has an average salary of $80,000.
Janice January 14, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Joe please don't insult the women who had the courage to take on America's Largest Township in Federal Court. If the Town thought they stood the slightest chance of winning at trial there wouldn't have made the offer of judgment against these defendants. Please don't talk about the fiscal wisdom when in fact this case had to cost the taxpayers close to if not $650,000. I am an average Joe and I never viewed animal rights or animal rescuers on the edge of reality. Your comparison to travesties in world news is to distract the importance of this case which was fought and won against the Town of Hempstead for violations of these women's civil rights. Most injured parties don't pursue justice against a government who violated their civil rights because the deck is stacked against them, so this case is an important win for those whose rights were also violated. Congratulations to these brave women who stayed the course and made history in this landmark case.
Lucille January 14, 2013 at 12:28 AM
You got that right Randy!!!!
Lucille January 14, 2013 at 12:38 AM
We were ANIMALS RESCUERS who volunteered our own time and money to help the animals at Hempstead. The acting Director and Supervisor at the time allowed us to come in and save a lot of animals, we were exceptions because the TOH Animal Shelter NEVER allowed Volunteers to come into the shelter until a year after we were banned and because of public pressure! As far as your confusion about a $7.45 Million Dollar Shelter asking for donations, you're not the only one scratching your head!!!! They only ask for donations so that they can give the animals the scraps people give them so that they can continue to keep the money amongst themselves for payroll, patronage positions, OT, Time Owed, and all the other fringe benefits. The town didn't give a damn that the animals were freezing during Sandy, just as they didn't care that the dogs water dishes used to freeze in the winter for the past TEN years and they would die of heat exhaustion every summer and the Town could care less!! All the employees would laugh and talk it up in air conditioned offices without giving it a second thought! This lawsuit brought about many changes, we just want more.
Lucille January 14, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Nice try Jerome!!! Haha!
lmb January 14, 2013 at 04:23 AM
please please we need change in TOH- why they get re-elected?? no one seriously runs against them
Janice January 14, 2013 at 05:21 AM
Gary Port ran a good grass roots campaign against Murray. If the democrats would have put their money where the candidate was and got the vote out there is no telling.... He was probably the best candidate to ever ran against Kate Murray. The problem in addition to the lack of funding is that we live in a commuter based society and most folks go to work in the city and don't have the spare time to devote to knowing their local politicians. The voter turn out is usually rather low, even with the strong and organized Nassau Republican Party getting the vote out. It's tough to out campaign Ms. Murray who campaigns all year long. The amount of mailings residents recieve at our houses touting Ms. Murray's accomplishments ignoring any defects in her administration was staggering. It's my opinion the Nassau democrats never fought hard enough politically for this crowned jewel run by Nassau Republicans for in excess of 110 years. That's just my opinion.
Felix Procacci January 14, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Janice, you got that right. Kate Murray spends about $5 million dollars on mailings. The Town hired 2 addtional graphics artists last year to work on her junk mail program. The total budget for graphics artists is now $269,000 up from $67,500 two years ago. Kate even has the nerve to call herself an environmentalist. see : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzq67LIQ3dw
Robert Demarco January 14, 2013 at 01:12 PM
Dave Denenberg should run in TOH. He would be a serious challenger for Kate Murray. He would wipe that smug look off her face.
Robert Demarco January 14, 2013 at 01:16 PM
Your opinion is correct. Gary trounced her in the debate as she refused to answer any questions on her corrupt leadership. Her answer to every question was " we're freezing taxes". This Republican machine gets out the vote because many of the people who vote owe their livliehoods to TOH patronage. It is a disgraceful system and Murray is the ringmaster.
Robert Demarco January 14, 2013 at 01:19 PM
And, as you pointed out in a prior post, one of these graphic artists is the Daughter of Gary Hudes. Patronage and nepotism continue to flourish in TOH. By the way, I received two more of Kate's self-serving mailings last week. They must be working overtime to crank this stuff out, to divert attention from their loss in the animal shelter case.
Joe January 14, 2013 at 01:39 PM
OK we get it, you don't like Kate Murray, now do something more then sound like a couple five year olds in a school yard, and posting in Patch is not doing something.
Robert Demarco January 14, 2013 at 02:16 PM
What is needed, Joe, is for other like minded citizens, and there are many, who dislike Kate incompetence and misuse of taxpayer funds, to get out there and vote. Apathy is what keeps her in office. If more people voted, there would be more of us than them. I did donate and put up signs for Gary in the last election, but even someone at the Democratic headquarters told me he has no chance. Lack of support from you own party dooms a candidate.
Robert Demarco January 14, 2013 at 02:18 PM
One more thing, Joe: Felix's record speaks for itself. He attends TOH Board meetings and community meetings, and shares his knowledge with the rest of us. He is very well-versed in the shenanigans of Kate Murray and TOH. He does plenty.
Felix Procacci January 14, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Joe, you are partially correct, posting in the Patch and other Newspapers is doing something but it is NOT enough. People need to also go to Board meetings, write letters to the editor of local newspapers, talk to their neighbors, and most importantly help campaign for candidates that oppose Kate Murray and other candidates (regardless of Party) that support the wasteful form of government she supports. People need to realize that there are many local governments on Long Island, that are NOT fiscally responsible. Kate Murray is the most notable because she makes a major effort (with her mailings) to insure she remains popular.
Laurie Lat January 14, 2013 at 02:32 PM
I voted for Gary Port and I go to the town hall meetings, I will continue to try to get her out.
mark boat January 15, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Another example of how the system is so corrupt. Morelli the Lawyer gets awarded almost double the amount DeFina and Madden separately received, and over 8 times the amount Lucivero-Parker received. This is how the system is set up, created by Lawyers to benefit Lawyers. And the Town (Taxpayer) is out another $150,000.00. When does this end? Disgusting!
Robert Demarco April 07, 2014 at 05:35 PM
Its political because the corrupt politicians made it a patronage dump by pouring millions into the shelter to benefit their friends and supporters. The animals did not receive and benefit from the outrageous amounts spent on the Shelter.

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