Posted July 9, 2014
On May 15, animal welfare groups agreed to pay $15.7 million to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which marked the end of a 14-year-old battle. Now the animal welfare groups are suing their insurers who advised the groups four years ago they would not cover the attorney fees, according to a Washington Examiner article by Richard Pollock available here.
The fees were accumulated during Animal Welfare Institute v. Feld Entertainment lawsuit that was filed in 2000. Feld Entertainment owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, known to millions of Americans as “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
Four animal rights groups and several individuals, including Tom Rider, who once worked for Ringling Bros, accused Feld of abusing elephants.
Misconduct in the case surfaced that questioned the credibility of the animal rights groups.
“The entire lawsuit was based on either misleading or outright false statements of fact,” said John Simpson, a law partner at the law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski and the lead attorney for Feld Entertainment.
After the settlement was announced, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and the Fund for Animals “defiantly claimed” their insurance would be responsible for the fees.
“We expect that a substantial portion, if not all, of the settlement costs to the HSUS and the Fund for Animals will be covered by insurance, and in the end, that no donor dollars from the HSUS will go to Feld,” according to a HSUS statement.
The insurance companies include the National Union Fire Insurance Co., the Travelers and Charter Oak Fire Insurance Co, according to the Washington Examiner.
HSUS is urging Feld to use the money to protect threatened and endangered elephants.
“But with the funds Feld is receiving, we urge the company to combat the killing of tens of thousands of elephants for their ivory. An additional $15 million can save countless elephants, by putting more armed guards on the ground or by working to reduce demand in ivory-consuming countries.”
For more information on Animal Welfare and the Endangered Species Act, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.