Animal rights group settles lawsuit with Ringling


#1

Animal rights group settles lawsuit with Ringling
By JESSICA GRESKO
Associated Press
Posted: 12/28/2012 09:03:50 AM MST
Updated: 12/28/2012 03:04:26 PM MST

WASHINGTON—An animal rights group will pay Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus $9.3 million to settle a lawsuit the circus filed after courts found that activists paid a former circus worker for his help in claiming the circus abused elephants.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Friday it was not admitting any wrongdoing in settling the lawsuit. The New York-based animal rights group was one of several involved in a lawsuit filed in 2000 against the circus’ owner, Feld Entertainment Inc., claiming elephants were abused. Courts later found that the animal rights activists had paid a former Ringling barn helper involved in the lawsuit at least $190,000, making him “essentially a paid plaintiff” who lacked credibility.

I have quoted what the Denver Post’s TOU allow, and included more source information than the TOU require. As the article points out, this does not settle the issue of whether Ringling Brothers abused their elephants. Reading between the lines a little, I think it does imply that the witness deemed not credible by the court is the heart of that claim, and with his testimony deemed not credible, the various animal rights groups have no case. Further, those groups also opened themselves to counter-suit, which is what the ASPCA settled (which may put the other orgs in an awkward position).


#2

Any day that an Enviro-Nazi/Animal Rights group gets slapped is a day where humans, animals and the environment win.

This is 9.3 million dollars less that these evil monsters will have to destroy innocent lives, a tiny win but a win nonetheless.


#3

[quote=“RET423, post:2, topic:37640”]
Any day that an Enviro-Nazi/Animal Rights group gets slapped is a day where humans, animals and the environment win.

This is 9.3 million dollars less that these evil monsters will have to destroy innocent lives, a tiny win but a win nonetheless.
[/quote]Hear, hear!


#4

The Elephant in the Courtroom
WSJ.com
12/30/12

Yes, you read that correctly. A special-interest group sued a corporation and in the resulting settlement it was not the business but the activist group that had to write a check. The case is an example of how the ASPCA has become increasingly politicized and much different from the nice outfit that looks out for the well-being of homeless and lovable dogs and cats.

Twelve years ago the ASPCA and other activist outfits joined with a former Ringling employee to sue the company under the Endangered Species Act. …

After nine years of litigation, a federal court found that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue under the Endangered Species Act and that the former Ringling employee was “not credible” and “essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness” whose only source of income during the litigation was the animal-rights groups that were his co-plaintiffs.

Mr. Feld says the $9.3 million payment from the ASPCA represents less than half of what his company has had to spend defending itself against the “manufactured litigation” from the activists. But he seems likely to recover more. His company is continuing its litigation against the Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Animal Protection Institute United with Born Free USA, the former employee and the lawyers who prosecuted the bogus case.

The AP is supposed to be a “news” reporting organization; this article is an opinion piece. So, why is there more non-opinion information in the opinion piece than the AP’s “news” article, above? I really do not think laziness applies, as getting the info on the original court case, the animal “rights” activists’ frivolous lawsuit, would have been easy for the AP reporter. No, the AP piece was part bias-by-selection (withholding info) and part CYA (covering the story, just incompletely).


#5

Ah - a former disgruntled employee wanted to “get” Ringling? That’s my guess.


#6

That and the ~$200K these groups paid him.


#7

This op-ed article provides some interesting background info on this case, especially the original lawsuit the “animal rights” groups lost:

Sunday Reflection: When animal rights groups attack
Derek Hunter
OpEd Contributor, The Washington Examiner
1/6/12

Who doesn’t love animals? We’ve all seen those TV ads drawing attention to the issue of animal abuse. And those who abuse animals deserve everything the law has to throw at them. But your donation to the charities that run those ads might not be helping animals the way those ads would have you believe.

In 2000, a multitude of animal rights groups filed a lawsuit against Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, alleging cruelty to animals. Ringling has long been a target of these groups because the circus uses animals as part of its act.

But this 2000 lawsuit had something the animal rights groups’ previous complaints lacked – a witness to the “abuse” on the inside. But this witness, Tom Rider, wasn’t what he seemed; he was, in fact, a paid witness by those seeking to shut down Ringling.

Feld countersued the groups and individuals that brought the suit against the company and, in the discovery stage, found proof that Rider had received payments totaling $190,000. Those payments cast so much doubt on the charges from the animal rights groups that the case was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning the case was found to be without merit to the point that the court blocked these groups from refiling it. Ever.

The ASPCA did not admit any wrongdoing in its settlement and released a statement from President and CEO Ed Sayres that the group “concluded that it is in the best interests of the organization to resolve this expensive, protracted litigation.” Expensive and protracted litigation the group initiated, of course.

Payments to Rider were made through nonprofit organizations set up by these groups. The Daily Caller reported, “Evidence in the trial showed that some of the funds paid to the nonprofit pass-through group were provided by the Humane Society of the United States with a check signed by its CEO, Wayne Pacelle.”

The AP article in the OP kinda-sorta notes that the original lawsuit was lost by the “animal rights groups” and notes (more clearly) the reason. OTOH, that article did not note that the loss was in the form of dismissal with prejudice. Basically, that means the court recognized that the “animal rights groups” could not prove their case, and that the purpose of the case was to harass Ringling Brothers (a tactic sometimes called lawfare). For that reason the dismissal took the form of “with prejudice”, which precludes the case ever being filed again. It wasn’t just a defeat for the “animal rights groups”, it was an abject defeat that could affect their credibility in court for years to come.