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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ringling Brothers Nets|$9.3 Million Settlement

(CN) - Feld Entertainment , owner of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, will receive $9.3 million from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to settle long-running litigation regarding the circus' care of elephants.

The parties filed papers to dismiss the case in the federal court in Washington, D.C., ending a legal battle that had gone on for more than a decade.

In a complaint filed in July 2000, ASPCA, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Fund for Animals and others alleged the circus mistreated its performing elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Feld Entertainment won the case at trial in December 2009, after a judge ruled the case was predicated on untruthful testimony offered by Tom Rider, who had cared for the elephants while working for Ringling Brothers in the late 1990s.

The finding followed the filing of a counter suit by Feld Entertainment, in which it claimed the animal rights groups violated federal racketeering laws by paying Rider more than $190,000 over an eight-year period to testify in cases alleging animal abuse by the circus.

After filing the settlement papers this morning, both sides issued written statements.

"After more than a decade of litigating with Feld Entertainment, the ASPCA concluded that it is in the best interests of the organization to resolve this expensive, protracted litigation," said ASPCA president and CEO Ed Sayres.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Feld, chairman and chief executive of Feld Entertainment, said, "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 Brothers."

While his company has settled its lawsuit with ASPCA, Feld went on to say legal proceedings against the Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Protection Institute United with Born Free USA, and former employee Rider, will continue.

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