WHAT DOES ASPCA'S $9.3 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH FELD ENTERTAINMENT MEAN FOR HSUS?
Feld Entertainment (company that owns, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ® Circus) announced a legal settlement with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.) The settlement required ASPCA to pay $9.3 million directly to Feld Entertainment for costs associated with a decade's worth of lawsuits. The original lawsuit goes all the way back to 2000 when ASPCA claimed Feld Entertainment violated the Endangered Species Act. The case was thrown out in 2001 and then later reinstated by an appellate court in 2003. The trial began February 4, 2009 and lasted a total of six weeks. Eventually, on December 30, 2009, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Feld Entertainment. According to court records, ASPCA and other animal rights groups funneled Tom Rider a total sum of $190,000. Tom Rider, a former circus employee, joined with the animal rights groups becoming essentially a “paid plaintiff.” Feld Entertainment was able to prove that Rider’s sole income during those eight years came from ASPCA and other animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS.) The court ruling in 2009 stated,
“that ensuring Mr. Rider’s continued participation as a plaintiff was a motivating factor behind the payments to him, and that these payments were a motivating factor for his continued involvement in the case.”
In 2007, Feld Entertainment presented a lawsuit to ASPCA and the other animal rights groups involved citing violations of the racketeering RICO Act. They are seeking to recover more than $20 million in lawsuit related costs and expose the animal rights groups corrupt practices. ASPCA’s settlement with Feld Entertainment proves the rest of the animal rights groups could be close to a similar settlement.
“These defendants attempted to destroy our family-owned business with a hired plaintiff who made statements that the court did not believe. Animal activists have been attacking our family, our company, and our employees for decades because they oppose animals in circuses. This settlement is a vindication not just for the company but also for the dedicated men and women who spend their lives working and caring for all the animals with Ringling Bros® in the face of such targeted, malicious rhetoric.” - Kenneth Feld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Feld Entertainment.
HSUS still remains a defendant in the RICO case. In July 2012, a federal court tossed out HSUS' attempt to have the case dismissed. Now that ASPCA settled, only time will tell. If found guilty, HSUS could be forced to pay damages up to three times more under the RICO law. Read more about Feld Entertainments case and the court rulings: http://www.ringlingbrostrialinfo.com/ For more information about Feld Entertainments commitment to the conservation of Asian Elephants check out the: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation