To Sue For Animal Neglect, You’ll Have To Be Not a Horse

  • According to the judge who ruled in this case.

America is sue happy, and this is nothing new. If someone wrongs you, sue. You get burnt on a coffee, that is obviously hot but doesn’t say ‘HOT,’ sue. Someone hits your car because they blew through a stop sign/yield sign/stop light, sue.

It’s a sue nation.

But it doesn’t always have to be a person, suing a person, does it?

In Oregon, a horse named Justice sued his owner. The allegations were those of animal neglect. But the judge tossed out the case.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge John Knowles issued his ruling on Tuesday. He said that the $100,000 lawsuit will not be allowed to proceed on the basis of the horse being considered a “non-human animal.” What?

“The court grants with prejudice defendant’s motion to dismiss based on a lack of standing for Justice the horse,” the ruling read. “The court finds that a non-human animal such as Justice lacks the legal status or qualifications necessary for the assertion of legal rights and duties in a court of law.”

After this, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a suit on Justice’s behalf alleging owner Gwendolyn Vercher as a negligent owner. The horse was left outside and not provided proper amounts of food and water.

“He was extremely emaciated — about 300 pounds below body weight for a horse — and most significantly, he suffered from penile frostbite as a result of his exposure to the cold and that was left untreated for months,” Matthew Liebman said. Liebman is Justice’s lawyer from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Vercher called the lawsuit “outrageous” in an interview with ABC News at the time. But she pleaded guilty to first-degree animal neglect when she went to court in July. She says she paid for the animals care as a result.

But the suit for $100,000 was to be used for further care necessary for the animal’s remaining years, Liebman stated.

The ruling came after the court said that a case like this would open a “flood” of lawsuit filed by animals.

“There are profound implications of a judicial finding that a horse, or any non-human animal for that matter, is a legal entity that has the legal right to assert a claim in a court of law,” the court said. “Such a finding would likely lead to a flood of lawsuits whereby non-human animals could assert claims we now reserve just for humans and human creations such as business and other entities.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund told the Portland Mercury it plans to appeal the judge’s ruling on Justice’s case. Let’s hope justice was brought to Justice.

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