Legal wrangling which has spanned almost two decades has finally come to a close, with animal rights activist group Humane Society of the United States being hit where it hurts – right in the pocket book.
It all began almost 20 years ago when The Fund for Animals and other animal rights groups sued Feld Entertainment, owner of Ringling Bros. circus. (At the time, HSUS was a separate group but merged with the Fund for Animals in 2004 – while the lawsuit was ongoing.)
The lawsuit claimed the circus abused the animals. It was discovered their key witness, a former elephant handler, not only lied to the court but was also being paid under the table by HSUS and other groups, according to a report by .
The lawsuit was thrown out and Feld Entertainment counter-sued HSUS and other parties alleging bribery, fraud and racketeering. Feld was awarded $25 million, $11 million of which was to come from HSUS.
HSUS had insurance policies for just such a situation, but only one of its two policies actually paid out. HSUS sued the second insurer, National Union Fire Insurance Co. The Fourth District Federal Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of National Union, which left HSUS holding the bag for over $5.6 million.
This decision means that HSUS donors—the proverbial little old ladies giving $19 a month to HSUS—had to cover about $5.675 million of the racketeering settlement, said the Humane Watch Report.