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Arbitrators Side With Smokey The Cat

April 5, 1988

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A panel of arbitrators has sided with Smokey the cat, saying the owners of an office supply business were not negligent for keeping the feline in their store after it was accused of scratching a customer.

News of the case prompted patrons of J.R. Weldin & Co. and numerous others to contribute more than $2,000 to the defense fund of the 17-year-old, somewhat asthmatic cat.

″He (Smokey) is a star,″ said store manager Margaret Brown, who denied the cat attacked customer Nicole Sikorski. ″As long as he’s living, he won’t leave the store.″

At a hearing Monday attended by about 45 Smokey supporters, a panel of three lawyers from the arbitration division of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court rejected the claims of Ms. Sikorski, 24, of suburban Upper Saint Clair.

The arbitrators said they awarded no damages to Ms. Sikorski because her attorney failed to prove damages or show Smokey has a record of attacking customers.

Ms. Sikorski had been seeking an unspecified award for nominal damages, plus $1,500 in punitive damages and another $1,500 for her scars.

Ms. Sikorski testified that Smokey ″came from nowhere″ and sank his front claws into her left wrist while she was making a purchase in October. She said she has a tiny scar and about a half-dozen pinprick marks on the back of her wrist.

Smokey’s defense fund will be divided among the Humane Society, Animal Friends, the Animal Rescue League and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Ms. Brown said.

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