Feld Entertainment, Inc. Prevails, Yet Again, in Eleven Year Old Case Brought by ASPCA and Other Animal Special Interest Groups
Final Ruling Rejects Efforts by the ASPCA and Other Animal Special Interest Groups to Reverse Prior Legal Victories for Feld Entertainment, Inc.
VIENNA, VA – Jan. 11, 2012 – Feld Entertainment, Inc. announced today that a federal appeals court unanimously re-affirmed the judgment entered on behalf of Feld Entertainment, Inc. at trial and on appeal.
Feld Entertainment, Inc., the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus. , won the lawsuit that was originally filed more than a decade ago by animal special interest groups who ultimately sought to outlaw elephants in the circus. After losing at trial in 2009 and losing a unanimous appeal in October of 2011, the plaintiffs attempted to seek re-hearing which was rejected by the appellate court today.
Today’s ruling leaves the appellate court’s October 2011 ruling intact. The three judge Circuit Court panel had previously affirmed the trial court’s determination that plaintiff and witness Tom Rider, a former barn man for Ringling Bros., was “essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible.” The appellate court stated: “it is undisputed that between March 2000 and December 2008, [lead plaintiff] Rider received at least $190,000 from the organizational plaintiffs in this lawsuit, as well as from an organization run by plaintiffs’ attorneys.” The October 2011 appellate ruling went on to affirm the trial court’s finding that: “the primary purpose for the payments was to keep Rider involved with the litigation.”
The court also rejected the claims of Animal Protection Institute (API)/Born Free, which, despite a six and half week trial, was unable to prove it had a right to be in court.
“Today’s decision clears the way for the resolution of Feld Entertainment’s claim for attorneys’ fees,” said John Simpson, lead counsel for Feld Entertainment. He also noted that “our client was forced to spend more than $20 million to defend this manufactured case, which was dismissed on the same grounds nearly eleven years ago in 2001.”
Background of Case
Today’s denial of rehearing upheld the unanimous decision, by the three judge panel comprised of Circuit Judges David S. Tatel, Merrick Brian Garland and Janice Rodgers Brown, affirming the December 2009 trial court decision issued by U.S District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia in ASPCA, et al., v. Feld Entertainment, Inc., No. 03-2006 (D.D.C.). After a six and a half week trial in Spring 2009, the trial court ruled for Feld Entertainment, Inc.
Additional information on this litigation, including Court filings and elephant care information can be found online at http://www.ringlingbrostrialinfo.com/. Information on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation is available online at http://www.elephantcenter.com/.
Ringling Bros.’ Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. appellate team was led by John M. Simpson and included Jonathan S. Franklin, Michelle C. Pardo and Mark T. Emery.
About Feld Entertainment
FeldEntertainment, Inc. is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live family entertainment that lifts the human spirit and creates indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 70 countries and on six continents to date and include Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Feld Motor Sports, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®.