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RICO Update: HSUS Affiliate May Be Financially Devastated

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RICO Update: HSUS Affiliate May Be Financially Devastated

Should we shed a tear for their plight? No.
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The Humane Society of the United States and two of its in-house lawyers are being sued under federal anti-racketeering (RICO) laws. The lawsuit, brought by Ringling Bros. owner Feld Entertainment, alleges that a suit brought by animal rights groups over 10 years ago regarding the treatment of circus elephants was malicious and involved illegal witness payments and bribery. Heavy charges.

This first lawsuit—not the RICO one—was dismissed in 2009. The animal-rights plaintiffs lost in a devastating way when the judge threw out the case and found that the plaintiffs’ key witness had lied to the court and been paid quietly by the plaintiffs. Now the animal-rights plaintiffs are fighting over how much they have to pay in attorney fees, with bankruptcy potentially on the line.

The National Law Journal reports that the Fund, along with the Animal Welfare Institute and Born Free USA, filed a whiny response this week to Feld’s request for $25 million in attorney fees, calling it “ridiculous” and claiming that such a penalty could financially ruin them. They propose to pay about $2 million instead.

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