Goat dispute settled in Clinton County Small Claims Court


A claim was settled April 19 for two Wilmington residents who took a goat dispute to court in Clinton County.

Elizabeth (Beth) Harris of 1387 Anderson Road filed a complaint in November alleging that a Wilmington man refused to pay for or return a goat.

Harris filed the complaint in the Small Claims Division of the Clinton County Municipal Court against Justin Smith of 5763 Gurneyville Road.

Harris said that in July of 2016, Smith picked up her family’s goats and took one male buck and three female does to his Gurneyville Road residence. Harris claimed she gave Smith permission to use the buck to service not only her three does, but also the does that Smith owned at his residence.

Harris then offered to sell her buck to Smith. Smith agreed to pay $250 for the buck, but he later sent a message to Harris saying that he did not have the $250 to buy the goat and offered to make payments.

Three months later, in October, Harris asked to have her buck returned because Smith never paid for the goat.

At this point Smith reportedly refused to return the goat, and stated that the buck had killed one of his family’s prize-winning does. Smith then demanded payment for the doe that had been killed by the buck.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office was called over the matter on Oct. 10, 2016 at approximately 6 p.m.

Robert (Bobby) Harris requested that a deputy sheriff follow him to Smith’s residence on Gurneyville Road to pick up the buck.

Harris reported that they were concerned because Smith’s brother is Sgt. Josh Smith. The Harris’s then requested that they be able to file a theft report on Smith over the goat.

Clinton County deputy sheriff Chris Kirk called Smith and asked about the dispute. Smith said he was unwilling to return the buck without first receiving compensation for the doe that had been killed, according to reports.

Deputy Kirk advised both parties that the dispute was a civil matter. Harris filed her claim in the Small Claims Division of the Clinton County Municipal Court. Smith then went to court and filed a counter-claim in the case for the price of the killed doe and for other expenses in the matter including the cost of feed, hay and lost wages.

Harris hired Fayette County attorney Jess Weade to represent the case. Weade, who studied animal science, said he has represented several cases in his private practice over animal and livestock disputes. He said it’s not uncommon for people to become upset over their animals and pursue legal actions.

The Clinton County court magistrate granted judgment in the case April 19. Justin Smith is ordered to pay $250 for the buck to Elizabeth Harris.


By Ashley Bunton

[email protected]

Ashley may be contacted by phone by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter by searching for @ashbunton

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