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Judge tosses former GHS group’s suit

Darleene Barrientos

A judge rejected several motions Friday in a lawsuit filed by former

Glendale Humane Society board members, but allowed them a little more

time to amend their request to place a temporary restraining order on


the board president.

Burbank Superior Court Judge Michael S. Mink ordered the

plaintiffs in the case to amend their challenge against Wilhelm

Vargas, who is the Glendale Humane Society’s board president, within


10 days, or the case will be thrown out.

“The court, by its ruling, has given us a chance to file an

amendment to our complaint. It’s no major victory for anybody. The

complaint is not dead,” said Paulette Ramsay Wood, a former board

secretary and plaintiff in the lawsuit. “It’s not over, but it could

have been.”

A ruling issued by the court stated the plaintiffs did not show

any facts that would lead to a favorable judgment for them. The


lawsuit alleges the current board refused to meet with those

nominated to the board at a special election March 10, and that the current board does not have the authority to govern the society

because of that election.

The lawsuit also alleges that Vargas did not fulfill his duties to

the members of the society regarding membership and that he acted

with conscious disregard for the rights of the plaintiffs. The

lawsuit claims Vargas was not a member of the Glendale Humane Society

when he was elected president, that he inappropriately published a


letter in the News-Press, that he met with the mayor of Glendale

without board approval, and that he engaged in negotiations with a

company to film on the society’s property without the board’s


“They failed to show their claim was valid,” Vargas said of

Friday’s decision.

The lawsuit was filed May 30 against Vargas and the Glendale

Humane Society by Wood and other former board members Greg Elmore,

Bill Evans, Lisa Gladstone and Kimberly Stanton, all of whom resigned

due to philosophical differences.

On March 10, the plaintiffs conducted a special election recalling

Vargas and board members Steve Levin and Alyce Russell. In a 77-8

decision, rank-and-file GHS members voted to replace sitting board

members with Wood, Elmore, Evans, Gladstone and Stanton.

However, the sitting board claimed not all members were notified

of the election and that it was not an election endorsed by the

official board, rendering it invalid.

“The complaint had suffered from a number of defects,” said Robert

Miller, who represents Vargas and the society. “It failed to [state]

enough facts to support any cause of action. [The allegations] in the

complaint were largely directed at conduct by Vargas that were

claimed to be contrary to the board’s decision. Virtually everything

in the complaint is something involving his 1st Amendment rights.”

Wood confirmed the plaintiffs would continue to pursue their

complaint. Vargas said he will file a motion for attorney’s fees in

the case.