A Jackson County jury on Thursday awarded $58,000 to the owner of a Greenwood animal sanctuary for emotional distress suffered when someone swiped three monkeys from his preserve.
Dana Savorelli had sued a former sanctuary volunteer and others in a case that involved the monkey thefts in October 2007.
“It was definitely a win,” Savorelli said Thursday. “But sometimes it doesn’t feel like it when they still have your stolen property.”
Though two of the monkeys have been recovered, a third remains missing, Savorelli said.
The jury assessed $36,500 in punitive damages against Catherine Montes, the former volunteer. Prosecutors charged Montes in the 2007 disappearance of the three monkeys but dropped the charges the following year, after authorities rescued two of the animals in Buchanan County.
She had contended that she owned one of the monkeys, but the jury disagreed, said David Wylie, who represented Savorelli.
The jury also assessed $17,000 in punitive damages against Lisa Shinkle, on whose property the two monkeys were found. A jury previously convicted Shinkle of two counts of receiving stolen property; last year a Missouri appeals court upheld those convictions.
The jury assessed $1,000 against Joseph Shinkle, Shinkle’s son.
The jury awarded actual damages of $3,500, to be paid jointly by the three defendants.
While Savorelli still laments the missing monkey, he believes the verdict will serve as a deterrent.
“Hopefully it will deter other people from stealing other peoples’ animals,” he said. “That was the main reason for us to hang in there on this.
“Maybe the next person down the road will think twice.”
Montes could not be reached for comment.