Posted May 15, 2014
 
Ending a 14-year long battle over the welfare of circus elephants, the Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare groups have agreed to pay Feld Entertainment $15.75 million, according to an article by the Bradenton Herald available here.  The Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal also reported on the story hereand here.
 
This settlement follows previous settlements of $9.3 million from the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in 2012. 
 
“We hope this settlement payment and various court decisions that found against these animal rights activists and their attorneys, will deter individuals and organizations from bringing frivolous litigation like this in the future,” said Kenneth Feld, chairman and chief executive officer of Feld Entertainment.
 
In 2000, the Humane Society and co-defendants including a former employee Tom Rider, filed a lawsuit against Feld, parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus over the care of 43 Asian elephants.  The groups argued that the company violated the Endangered Species Act by improperly removing the Asian elephants from their habitat and abusing them.
 
In 2001, the case was dismissed, but an appellate court reinstated the case in 2003, provided that Rider could prove he was injured by the company’s care of the elephants.
 
The settlement also includes a case “Feld filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act” (RICO).   During the “original suit, Feld found that the animal rights groups and their lawyers paid Rider $190,000 to be a paid plaintiff, which triggered the RICO suit, and found that Rider lied under oath.”
 
Feld has recovered more than $25 million in legal fees incurred defending the Endangered Species Act claims.

 

For more information on Animal Welfare and the Endangered Species Act, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here