Dog Rescue Sues Former Workers, Alleging Breach of Confidentiality

Porter County Courthouse, Downtown Valparaiso

The nonprofit Lakeshore PAWS dog rescue is suing three former employees, claiming they violated confidentiality agreements they signed when they were hired by posting allegations about the fate of various dogs taken in by the rescue on the social networks, including euthanasia.

The lawsuit, filed March 14, names Jillian Lambert and Abigail Mains of Valparaiso and Taylor Marie Van Sickle of LaPorte. The Facebook posts, according to the lawsuit, were made after the three women left Lakeshore PAWS.

The lawsuit notes that each of the women’s “breach of contract damaged PAWS by causing PAWS to spend time and money.

The parties reasonably anticipated these damages when entering into this contract. (Their) breach of contract was a cause responsible for these damages.

Under the terms of the confidentiality agreements, the women “were not to share during and after employment any confidential matters that arose while they were employed by PAWS,” according to the lawsuit.

Lambert worked on the rescue from around September 2017 to August 2019 and then from March 2020 to June 2021, according to court documents. Mains worked there from August 2019 to May 2020, and Van Sickle was there from June 2019 to May 2021.

Several of the social media posts, according to exhibits filed with the lawsuit, were made on a Facebook page called “Lakeshore Paws Lies Exposed,” which has since been shut down.

Facebook posts and message threads included in the exhibits allege at least one dog was euthanized and volunteers were told the dog had been adopted or transferred to another shelter, despite the fact that staff repeatedly worked with the animal, which was easily frightened.

Both Van Sickle and Lambert received letters on February 15 from Valparaiso attorney Michael Langer telling them to “immediately cease and desist from disclosing any further confidential information, whether verbal, written or via electronic or social media”, under penalty of civil proceedings. deposited by the board of directors of the ASBL. The letters are included in the exhibits.

“Lakeshore PAWS is simply trying to uphold the documents signed by three previous employees and dispel misinformation that is spreading about the organization,” board chair Jeanne Sommer said in an email to the Chesterton. Grandstand.

Sommer is one of the founders of the rescue and served as executive director and chairman of the board until last summer.

The Valparaiso-based rescue was founded in 2011. According to its website, which does not list the director or current staff, Lakeshore PAWS attracted 631 dogs to its facility last year, adopted 595 and euthanized seven dogs. cruelty free.

“We had an average rescue rate of 98.8%, which means that almost 99% of the dogs that enter the shelter have a positive result,” the site states, noting that to qualify as a shelter without an update dead, the live save rate must be 90. % or higher.

“We recognize that in cases of animal suffering, human euthanasia is the most compassionate outcome,” the website’s statement read. “When an animal exhibits behavioral problems that pose a threat to people or other animals, or when it faces significant quality of life issues, euthanasia may be considered.”

The lawsuit seeks monetary compensation from Lambert, Mains, and Van Sickle and demands that they comply with the terms and conditions of the confidentiality agreement; remove “all false and defamatory statements” from the Internet; and prohibits them “from posting any future false and defamatory statements on the Internet or otherwise”.

The case was assigned to Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer. No hearing has been scheduled, according to online court records.

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