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Plaintiff granted extension in suit over library-cat attack

By Daniel J. Chacón

March 13, 2002

ESCONDIDO – A hearing in the $1.5 million lawsuit against the city = by the owner of an assistance dog clawed by the public library's pet cat = has been continued until April 18.

Deputy City Attorney Steve Nelson said the dog's owner, Richard Espinosa, who is representing himself, asked for the extension yesterday after he failed to file a motion opposing the city's request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Espinosa, who says his civil rights and rights as a disabled person were violated, has rejected a $1,500 settlement offer from the city, Nelson said.

The case stems from an incident at the library Nov. 16, 2000. Espinosa, then a reporter for the

North County Times, was on assignment at the library when the cat attacked Kimba, his 50-pound Labrador mix. The cat, known as L.C. for library cat, no longer is kept at the library.

In the suit, Espinosa contends the city violated his rights by putting th= e welfare of its "dangerous cat" above people with disabilities.

A sign that said "No Animals" except guide dogs violated his right and those of others who use assistance dogs to enter the city library, the suit contends.

Espinosa says he relies on the state-certified assistance dog to help him deal with the anxiety attacks and other health problems.

Copyright 2002 Union-Tribune Publishing Co

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