Court awards no fees to Primarily Primates receiver

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2007:

AUSTIN–Travis County Probate Court Judge Guy Herman on
September 10, 2007 denied the request of Lee Theisen-Watt for
“Payment of Receiver Fees and Reimbursement of Attorneys’ Fees” for
the time she spent as court-appointed receiver at the Primarily
Primates sanctuary near San Antonio, Texas, from October 15, 2006
until May 1, 2007.
Herman noted that Theisen-Watt testified “she had agreed to
offer her services pro bono, that her original attorney would
represent her pro bono, that she assumed her original attorney would
pay for the fees of her other attorneys, and that she gave a
charitable receipt from Primarily Primates to the original attorney
for the $42,000 the original attorney said he paid” to another law
firm.


Theisen-Watt’s tenure as receiver ended after the Texas
Office of Attorney General agreed in an out-of-court settlement to
“fully and completely release, acquit, and forever discharge
Primarily Primates,” founder Wally Swett, other staff and board
members, and Friends of Animals, which absorbed the sanctuary in
August 2006, from “all claims” brought against them.
The Texas Office of Attorney General had seized Primarily
Primates based largely on allegations by two former employees who had
been dismissed for cause, forwarded by PETA counsel for research
and investigations Leona Stormont. Stormont sent the allegations
shortly after Ohio State University retired nine former research
chimpanzees to Primarily Primates, with an endowment for their care
and housing, against PETA objections.
Wrote Judge Herman, Theisen-Watt “admitted that subsequent
to the settlement hearing, she decided to charge for her services
and that of her lawyer because she was unhappy with the terms of the
settlement.” While Theisen-Watt “suggested that her approval of a
settlement was a condition prior to her providing her services pro
bono,” Herman continued, “such a condition, if it existed, was
unknown to the parties and was not agreed upon by any of the parties
or the Court.
“The condition precedent theory of fees offered up” by
Theisen-Watt “in this case is an attempt to interfere with the
judicial process,” Judge Herman found, “and violates the Receiver’s
supposed third-party neutrality. The Court cannot and will not
countenance such effort by awarding fees and expenses.”
Among Theisen-Watt’s actions as receiver was relocating many
of the animals who lived at Primarily Primates.
At the time the July/August 2007 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE
went to press, Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral and
Primarily Primates executive director Stephen Tello believed that
Theisen-Watt had sent some Primarily Primates animals to the Duke
University Lemur Center, as well as to several sanctuaries, and
were quoted commenting about the suitability of Duke as a home for
sanctuary animals. Feral later notified ANIMAL PEOPLE that Duke did
not receive any Primarily Primates animals, although Duke had
received an inquiry about possibly taking some.
Chimps Inc., of Eugene, Oregon, the International Primate
Protection League, and New Mexico land owner Marguerite Gordon on
June 25, 2007 sued Primarily Primates, respectively seeking to keep
two chimps, 12 gibbons, and a longhorn steer whom Theisen-Watt sent
to them.
Friends of Animals on August 6, 2007 sued Chimp Haven, of
Shreveport, Louisiana, seeking return of the seven surviving former
Ohio State University chimps. Two of the chimps died of pre-existing
heart conditions soon after arrival at Primarily Primates.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *