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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

December 28, 2012 by  

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Feld Entertainment, Inc., the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baileyï?½ 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. ï?½ 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.

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