Bat World Sanctuary wins $6.1 million libel judgment

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2012:

Bat World Sanctuary wins $6.1 million libel judgment

FORT WORTH–Bat World Sanctuary, and Bat World founder and president Amanda Lollar of Mineral Wells, Texas, were on June 14, 2012 awarded $6.1 million in damages by Tarrant County district Judge William Brigham, who found after a four-day trial that Los Angeles activist Mary Cummins had committed “intentional, malicious, and egregious” defamation against Lollar and had breached an internship contract she signed in 2010 with Bat World. The award was the highest known to ANIMAL PEOPLE in a defamation case involving animal advocates.

Summarized Bat World in a prepared statement, “Mary Cummins was accepted for an internship at Bat World,” but “became dissatisfied with the program and left the internship early.”

Cummins then posted what Bat World termed “horrific allegations of animal cruelty against Lollar on the Internet.” Cummins also filed complaints against Bat World with at least eight government agencies. “Every agency that investigated Bat World Sanctuary found Cummins’ complaints to be completely without merit,” said the Bat World statement.

Judge William Brigham ordered Cummins to pay $3.0 million in compensatory damages and $3.0 million in punitive damages, plus $10,000 for the alleged breach of her contract with Bat World and $176,700 in attorney’s fees.

Cummins stated in a prepared statement of response that she is contesting the verdict, requesting a new trial and appealing the decision, and pursuing a crossfiled libel and defamation complaint against Lollar and Bat World in Federal court in California. Lollar was represented in the case by Randy Turner of Fort Worth. Cummins represented herself, after attorney Neal Callaway withdrew from the case.

“Cummins has been involved in over 20 lawsuits and has been sued four times for defamation,” said the Bat World statement. Particulars of several previous cases are posted on Cummins’ web site. A lawsuit brought by Cummins against the Los Angeles Department of Animal Regulation was instrumental in the April 2009 resigation of then-general manager Ed Boks, the fourth person to head the department in seven years. Boks, who previously headed the Maricopa County Animal Control department in Phoenix and the New York City Center for Animal Care & Control, has since June 2010 headed  the Yavapai Humane Society in Prescott, Arizona.

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