Well, it looks like the chickens (or would those be elephants) are coming home to roost. Feld Entertainment, the parent company for Ringling Brothers, has launched a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) suit against the following organizations and individuals:
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
- Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
- Animal Welfare Institute (AWI)
- The Fund For Animals (subsidiary of the Humane Society of the United States)
- Tom Rider
- Animal Protection Institute through Born Free USA United (API)
- Wildlife Advocacy Project (WAP)
- Law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal as an organization; Katherine Meyer, Eric R. Glitzenstein and Howard M. Crystal in their individual capacities
- Jonathan R. Lovvorn & Kimberly D. Ockene, attorneys for the HSUS
Sheer vindictiveness for the 9 year long lawsuit waged against Feld Entertainment by the defendants you say? Maybe not.
The 135 page long filing for the RICO , as well as the 57 page Court opinion in the December 2009 dismissal of the original case documents a history of payments routed to Tom Rider by his many of his RICO suit co-defendants in exchange for his testimony against Feld Entertainment. This was explicitly noted by the court in the December dismissal as follows:
- Mr. Rider’s self-serving testimony at trial about his personal and emotional attachment to these elephants also is not credible because he did not begin to make complaints about how FEI treated its elephants until after he began accepting money from animal activists, possibly first from such individuals in the United Kingdom and then certainly from PAWS, MGC, the current organizational plaintiffs and WAP. Other than these payments, which have totaled at least $190,000.00 and have flowed to Mr. Rider in an uninterrupted stream from March 2000 through at least December 31, 2008, Mr. Rider has had no other source of income or financial support. (pg 44 of 57)
Damning examples of additional credibility issues regarding the testimony are further accessible through the December 2009 case dismissal.
- Court finds that Mr. Rider failed to prove either a strong and personal attachment to the seven elephants at issue or that FEI’s treatment of those elephants caused and continues to cause Mr. Rider to suffer aesthetic or emotional injury. Mr. Rider was repeatedly impeached, and indeed was “pulverized” on cross-examination. 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. (pg 19 & 20 of 57)
Disregard Humane Watch and the RICO filing court records if you wish. But this RICO suit stems directly from the observations of US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in the conclusions of the original trial in December 2009. Can those be as easily discarded out of hand?