A Multnomah County Circuit Court jury awarded Joshua Smith a hefty $1.375 million after his beloved feline companion, “Frank,” was unlawfully seized by his landlord, Devon Andrade.
The catnapping case, which captivated animal lovers and legal observers alike, underscores the significance of tenant rights and the emotional bond between humans and their pets.
$1.375 million cat kidnapping
Smith’s saga began in 2017 when he graciously took in what he believed to be a stray cat, “Frank,” making the charming feline his roommate at a Portland drug recovery group home. However, in 2019, Smith returned home to an unexpectedly empty room that caused him much heartache leading to a lawsuit.
The courtroom drama on the kidnapping unfolded rapidly, with the jury’s verdict siding with the 41-year-old Smith in under two hours.
Smith had taken legal action against his landlord and the recovery home business after Andrade confessed to taking Frank away, citing a lease violation as the reason.
Andrade enlisted his girlfriend to transport Frank to a local shelter, where veterinarians discovered the cat’s microchip, revealing his true owner. However, Frank wasn’t returned to Smith.
Jury members, animal lovers too
Smith’s legal team, led by attorney Michael Fuller, argued that punitive damages and compensation for emotional distress were warranted in the case. “It turned out that the people on the jury were also animal lovers,” noted Fuller, emphasizing the importance of respecting tenants’ rights, particularly concerning their pets.
Following the legal battle, Smith has since moved on. Although currently without a pet, he shared his plans with the Oregonian to utilize the awarded funds to purchase a safe home where he can once again have and enjoy the companionship of furry friends. In fact, Smith now owns a barbershop called “The Handsome Wolf,” a testament to his journey and his hopeful future with four-legged companions by his side.
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