The attorney says he set the suit for tax purposes.
YOUNGSTOWN -- It hasn't been a good week for the owners of Noah's Lost Ark animal sanctuary.
Ellen and Doug Whitehouse were forced by court order to give up the lion Boomerang, which they had cared for since October 2003, on Monday, and Tuesday they were sued by their lawyer for money owed to him in their attempt to keep the lion at their sanctuary on Bedell Road in Berlin Center.
Michael J. O'Shea of Cleveland filed his suit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court asking for payment of $4,336. O'Shea listed total fees of $62,748 and he has received payment of $58,412.
"We like Ellen and Doug Whitehouse," O'Shea said. "This is just a string of unpaid accounts we needed to put in lawsuit form for tax purposes. I am confident we will work this out with them."
All of O'Shea's fees were for representing Noah's Lost Ark in its legal battle with William Long of Upper Arlington, a Columbus suburb, for control of the lion.
The Whitehouses claim Long and a reporter abandoned the animal, which was a cub at the time, at the sanctuary. Therefore Long forfeited his right to have the animal.
Long, who bought the animal, maintained he only wanted the cub kept there long enough for it to become healthy so the animal could be moved to a wildlife preserve in California.
Courts here ruled the animal rightfully belonged to Long, and the Whitehouses were forced to give it up.
Long, an animal rights activist, and the reporter, Al Guart, worked together for a newspaper story on the exotic animal trade and how easy it was to buy such animals.