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Zoo Wins Ruling in Elephant Case

August 01, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

A Superior Court judge denied a motion this week to sanction the Los Angeles Zoo or the city attorney's office representing it for the handling of a private citizen's pending lawsuit on the zoo's transfer of an African elephant named Ruby.

Attorney Yael Trock, who represents the Los Angeles resident, Catherine Doyle, had argued that a city attorney's filing to transfer the case to federal court in late May was an "unfair delay tactic." The move forced Trock to refile a request for a temporary restraining order. The zoo moved the elephant to Knoxville, Tenn., while that request was pending.

The city attorney's office had argued that issues involving elephants fall under the federal law on endangered species. However, a federal judge later remanded the suit back to Superior Court.

On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge George Wu told Trock that he couldn't grant sanctions because she hadn't followed all the proper procedures for her request. But, Wu added, the zoo's move to federal court was "not sanctionable behavior, just a litigation tactic." Nor was it a transgression for the zoo to move the elephant while the request for a restraining order was pending, according to the judge.

"There is a difference between applying for a TRO and getting a TRO," Wu said.

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