Former elephant handler for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
Circus has standing to sue under Endangered Species Act
KarenDawn at DawnWatch.com
Tue Jun 24 15:14:42 EDT 2003
(From May, but some may not have heard.)
Entertainment Law Reporter
RECENT CASES; Vol. 24, No. 12
Former elephant handler for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has
standing to sue under Endangered Species Act for Circus' alleged
mistreatment of elephants, federal appellate court rules
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will have to defend itself, after
all, against allegations that it mistreated its elephants. The allegations
are made in a federal court lawsuit asserting that the Circus' treatment of
its elephants violates the Endangered Species Act.
The lawsuit was filed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals and others. One of these others is a former Circus employee,
Thomas Rider, who was an elephant handler from 1997 to 1999. According to
Rider, he quit the Circus because of the way in which it treated its
elephants. Rider alleges that he would like to "visit" the elephants again,
but can't, because doing so would cause him "aesthetic and emotional injury"
so long as they are being mistreated. The case didn't get far, at first. A
federal District Court dismissed it, on the grounds that the ASPCA and Rider
did not have standing to pursue the case. However, in a decision by Judge
Raymond Randolph, the Court of Appeals has reversed. It held that Rider does
have standing, though because the ASPCA seeks the same relief as Rider, the
court did not decide whether the ASPCA has standing as well.
According to Judge Randolph, Rider has standing to pursue his Endangered
Species Act claims, "[b]ased on his desire to visit the elephants (which we
must assume might include attending a performance of the circus), his
experience with the elephants, his alleged ability to recognize the effects
of mistreatment, and what an injunction would accomplish. . . ."
The ASPCA and Rider were represented by Katherine Anne Meyer. Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus was represented by Harris Weinstein.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 317 F.3d 334, 2003 U.S.App.LEXIS 1824 (D.C.Cir.
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