PHILADELPHIA (CN) - An animal rights groups stalked, harassed and defamed members of the Philadelphia Gun Club - who occasionally use live pigeons as targets - and went so far as to glue dildoes outside the club, members claim in court.
The gun club and eight members sued Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, and Illinois-based animal rights group, and five of its members, Federal Court.
The shooters claim the defendants engaged in a "pattern of harassment, hounding, intimidation, trespass, invasion of privacy and intrusion" against members of the club, which has operated in Bucks County, Pa., since 1877.
The gun club says it uses live pigeons supplied by "pest control companies" 10 to 12 times a year for members to shoot with shotguns loaded with bird shot.
At least 20 times in the past two years, SHARK has set up camp at the club's driveway and blocked the road, filmed members coming and going, and got access to the property's security gate code and posted it on the Internet to "incite others to commit physical crimes against the PGC property," according to the lawsuit.
SHARK members also glued "rubber facsimiles of male genitalia" outside the property, then filmed it and posted the movie on the Internet, according to the complaint.
At least three times in 2013 and 2014, gun club members say, the animal rights group surrounded the property with loudspeakers and played recorded vulgar and profane messages for hours at high volume. They claims that SHARK members jotted down their license plates to try to learn their identities, followed them, created Internet posts identifying them, and posted inflammatory videos of them on the Internet.
SHARK said it has not even seen the lawsuit. On its website, however, the group takes credit for reducing membership in the gun club.
"I am pleased to inform you that our relentless efforts against the notorious Philadelphia Gun Club have dramatically reduced the number of shooters attending their live pigeon shoots," an unsigned letter on the website states.
Records show that the gun club has also accused SHARK of harassment in a 2009 Bucks County lawsuit.
SHARK president Steve Hindi said a motion to dismiss that "frivolous lawsuit," which he said contained "multiple procedural and factual defects," is pending.
In the federal lawsuit, the gun club says it has lost business because SHARK posts false "reviews" on social-networking applications such as Facebook and Yelp. The individual gun club members are described as businessmen or physicians.
"The plaintiffs are each well-respected members of their communities, and the contents of defendants' false and defamatory statements - which include allegations of criminal conduct, of deviant sexual misconduct, of mental illness and cruelty, and of multiple instances of 'corruption' and dishonesty - are such that the reputation of each plaintiff has been lowered in the estimation of his community and has deterred third parties from associating or dealing with him," the lawsuit states.
For each violation of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, the plaintiffs seek $150,000 in damages. They also allege trespass, defamation, libel, invasion of privacy, tortious interference with existing and prospective contractual relations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Sean Corr with Corr Mitchell represents the plaintiffs.
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