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L.A. County sues owner of stable where horses died in a fire

July 17, 2012 |  5:37 pm

Gonzalo Berumen
The owner of a Willowbrook stable where three horses and a goat died in a fire last month violated numerous zoning laws and allowed unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the property, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Los Angeles County officials. 

The filing in Los Angeles County Superior Court also alleges that owner Nickolas J. Tokaruk, trustee of the Tokaruk Family Trust, did not have a business license. Since 2007, county inspectors have visited the property numerous times since 2007, the suit contends, and found illegally constructed stalls, plumbing and electrical wiring. They also discovered "thick layers of animal feces and urine.... some of which was being discharged and washed out into the storm drain systems."

Despite being ordered to make repairs, Tokaruk and others made few upgrades, officials contend.

"The defendant failed to make good faith effort to rehabilitate, repair or maintain the properties in accordance with the provisions of the Los Angeles County Code," the suit alleges.

Tokaruk could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A stable manager said he was unaware of any lawsuit.


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Photo: Horse owner Gonzalo Berumen, 45, spends time at the Willowbrook stable where a fire last month killed three horses and a goat. County officials have sued the owners. Credit: Christina House / For The Times