"They would laugh when they fed me..."
Jabba, a 9-year-old, long-hair, rare Tortoise Shell male, used to live with his owners in Lower Queen Anne. He now resides in a plush pad of his own in the posh Vanguard Towers building in Bellevue after winning a lucrative defamation lawsuit in King County just last week.
Jabba sued his owners, Jim and Debra Skunk, originally of Snohomish, charging that they emotionally abused him, making fun of his strangely-shaped head and relative rotundity. Jabba stated in court documents that "...they used to tell guests that I was so fat that I was like two cats in one..."
Jabba teared up as he recalled their abuse "...and they laughed when they fed me, it was terrible. I still have eating issues." As Jabba gave his testimony, members of the jury were seen wiping back their own tears of sorrow for him.
The King County Courthouse in Seattle, WA
Jabba says that while he knew that he was binge eating to curb his intense emotional pain, he felt hopeless about life in general and could not find any motivation to stop. Doctors had even put Jabba on a trial of the anti-depressant Lexapro at one point. "I would cry myself to sleep" Jabba recalled. "They would call me names like 'monsterface,' 'pumpkinhead' and frankenstein'"
Jabba heard the abuse day in and day out for most of his nine years and then one day simply decided to sue. The landmark case generated much attention from the media. His owners did not show up to the courthouse despite the fact that there was a subpoena.
Jabba's lawyer presented a case to a jury of twelve that highlighted a life of emotional pain, addiction, and grief, interlaced with fluctuating eating issues. At one point Jabba went back and forth between periods of binge eating and near anorexia.
University of Washington psychiatrist Dr. Gin Gin said in an interview today that at the root of almost all eating disorders are serious self-esteem and self-hate issues, possibly ingrained since early cathood.
Feelings of being "not good enough" or feeling "worthless and ugly" are translated into eating issues and become a way of gaining control of the body in a world where one feels they have no control over anything.
Dr. Gin Gin is an expert in the treatment of eating disorders
After a two-week trial, the jury found Jim and Deborah Skunk guilty of emotional abuse and granted Jabba 2.5 million dollars for emotional stress, winning a successful defamation of character lawsuit in the King County Court System.
He has since changed his name to "Fluffy."
Copyright Sharyn Thoma-Guay