WASHINGTON (CN) – Heir to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus throne Kenneth Feld may seek punitive damages against his sister in a trespassing counterclaim, a federal judge ruled.
Karen Feld sued Kenneth in 2008 for $110 million, claiming that Feld had his lackeys beat up her and her service dog while their family was sitting Shiva at an aunt’s memorial service in 2007. Karen claims Kenneth had “large, aggressive men” grab her and her dog, tossing them out of the service.
“The two, large, aggressive men violently twisted the arms and legs of plaintiff, Karen Feld, pushed her in to a corner on the floor of the elevator, ripped her right ear lobe until it bled, and repeatedly violently banged her head against the elevator rail,” Feld claimed in her complaint.
Kenneth Feld fired back in court, counterclaiming that Karen desecrated their aunt’s memorial and committed trespassing.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle ruled Monday that Kenneth Feld can seek punitive damages against her sister for trespassing, even though he is not seeking compensatory damages.
According to Karen Feld’s complaint, her brother runs Disney on Ice, Disney Live!, Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, and The Greatest Show on Earth among many other family-oriented shows, taking over for their father, Irvin, who died in 1984. She says that Kenneth’s company, Feld Entertainment, hauls in $1 billion annually.
“At all times relevant to the allegations of this complaint, defendant Kenneth Feld was motivated by hatred, malice, ill-will, and a desire to control the life of plaintiff, Karen Feld, because defendant Kenneth Feld feared that plaintiff, Karen Feld, would reveal facts about defendant Kenneth Feld and his family including, but not limited to, his father, Irvin Feld, that would present defendant Kenneth Feld and his family in an extremely poor light,” she claimed in her complaint.
The siblings’ feud reportedly became unsalvageable after Karen Feld was quoted in freelance journalist Jan Pottker’s exposé on the Felds, which described Irvin Feld’s affairs with men and other family scandals.
Eight years later, Pottker learned that Kenneth Feld had hired Clair George, the former deputy director of operations for the CIA and head of covert operations, to keep tabs on her as part of a plot to ensure she stopped writing about the Felds and shelved her plans for a book deal.
Pottker says she obtained proof about the scheme through an affidavit from Clair on file with a court where Kenneth Feld was engaged with an employment dispute.