Welcome!

News Feed Item

ASPCA Pays $9.3 Million in Landmark Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Settlement

Feld Entertainment RICO Lawsuit Will Continue against the Humane Society of the United States, the lawyers, and other remaining defendants

VIENNA, Va., Dec. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Feld Entertainment, Inc., the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus, announced today that the company has reached a legal settlement with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in connection with two federal court cases. Under the settlement, ASPCA has paid Feld Entertainment $9.3 million to settle all claims related to its part in more than a decade of manufactured litigation that attempted to outlaw elephants in the company's Ringling Bros. ® Circus.  This settlement applies only to the ASPCA.  Feld Entertainment's legal proceedings, including its claims for litigation abuse and racketeering, will continue against the remaining defendants, Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Protection Institute United with Born Free USA, Tom Rider and the attorneys involved. 

"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," said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Feld Entertainment.

The parties filed dismissal papers today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as a result of their settlement.  The settlement covers only Feld Entertainment's claims against ASPCA for attorneys' fees and damages in the initial Endangered Species Act (ESA) case filed in 2000 by the animal rights activists and the resultant racketeering (RICO) case brought by Feld Entertainment in 2007.  Discovery in the initial lawsuit uncovered over $190,000 that these animal activist groups and their lawyers paid to Tom Rider who lived off of the money while serving as the "injured plaintiff" in the lawsuit against the circus.   

"Our firm has been defending Feld Entertainment against this onslaught of misguided litigation brought by animal activist groups for years.  As their attorneys, it is gratifying to finally have a settlement that begins to make up for the harm inflicted on this company, the family who owns it, and its employees," said John Simpson of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., lead counsel for Feld Entertainment in all of the cases covered by the settlement with ASPCA.

Background of Case

The original complaint was filed in July 2000 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute, the Fund for Animals and Tom Rider, who is a former Ringling Bros. employee.  The case was dismissed in 2001 but was reinstated in 2003 after an appellate court ruled that if Tom Rider could prove that he was injured  by Ringling Bros.' treatment of the elephants, the case could proceed.  The Animal Protection Institute joined the case in 2006. 

The trial began on February 4, 2009 and lasted approximately six weeks. The case is ASPCA, et al., v. Feld Entertainment, Inc., No. 03-2006 (D.D.C.)(Hon. Emmet G. Sullivan presiding).

On December 30, 2009, the U.S. District Court ruled in Feld Entertainment's favor (published as ASPCA v. Feld Entertainment, Inc., 677 F. Supp. 2d 55 (D.D.C. 2009)). In its ruling the Court stated that, "the Court finds that Mr. Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible, and therefore affords no weight to his testimony regarding the matters discussed herein, i.e., the allegations related to his standing to sue." (www.ringlingbrostrialinfo.com/uploadedFiles/ASPCA%20Memorandum%20Opinion.pdf)

That decision found that the plaintiffs' litigation was based on the untruthful testimony of a paid plaintiff and witness who the Court found received at least $190,000 in payments as his sole source of income over an eight year period by animal special interest groups, including ASPCA, their lawyers and an entity founded and controlled by those lawyers, the Wildlife Advocacy Project.

The Court also ruled, "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." The Court also ruled against the other plaintiffs in the case: "because the organizational plaintiffs have not established an injury in fact, traceable to FEI's actions that can be redressed by the Court, the organizational plaintiffs have no standing to sue under Article III of the United States Constitution."

Furthermore, the Court ruled that "based upon his failure to complain, the Court finds that Mr. Rider either (1) did not witness elephant mistreatment when he was employed by FEI or (2) any mistreatment he did witness did not affect him to the extent that he suffered an aesthetic or emotional injury."  The Court's December 2009 ruling was affirmed in its entirety by the Court of Appeals on October 28, 2011.

Based upon what was revealed in ASPCA, et al., v. Feld Entertainment, Feld Entertainment brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against ASPCA, HSUS and other animal rights activists and their lawyers alleging violations of the RICO statute and Virginia Conspiracy Act, malicious prosecution, and abuse of process.  The court denied the defendants' motions to dismiss that case on July 9, 2012. (http://www.ringlingbrostrialinfo.com/uploadedFiles/First%20Amended%20Feld%20Entertainment%20RICO%20Complaint.pdf)

Additional information on this litigation, including Court rulings, filings and elephant care information can be found online at www.ringlingbrostrialinfo.com. Information on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation® and the company's international elephant conservation programs is available online at www.elephantcenter.com.

Ringling Bros. Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. legal team is led by John M. Simpson and includes, Michelle C. Pardo, Stephen M. McNabb, Kara Petteway and Rebecca Bazan.

About Feld Entertainment

Feld Entertainment has produced Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for over 45 years. Ringling Bros.' elephants, the treasured symbol of The Greatest Show On Earth® and the subject of the litigation, continue to be healthy and well-cared for by a team of full-time veterinarians and an animal care staff that works to ensure that the animals have a safe and positive environment. The company meets and exceeds federal requirements on the care of its Asian elephants, tigers and other animals.  Its animal care practices are commonly accepted and well known to federal, state and local government regulators who routinely inspect Ringling Bros. in almost every city it visits.

Feld Entertainment, 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 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Monster Jam, Supercross, Areanacross, Nuclear Cowboyz and IHRA drag racing. More information on Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com.

SOURCE Feld Entertainment, Inc.

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is ...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, pane...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...