Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus owner Feld Entertainment cracked its whip at the bevy of animal rights groups that sued them in 2000 for alleged mistreatment of its elephants (this case was dismissed in 2009). In response, Feld sued the ASPCA and other groups in 2007, claiming violations of enough state laws to fill a clown car in addition to federal racketeering claims. A federal judge ruled Monday that Feld can move ahead with its case. A lead attorney for the defendants snapped back at Feld, arguing that his client will “dispute [the] facts vigorously and believe that when the facts are finally decided in the case, Feld’s complaint will be found insufficient to warrant any relief on that basis instead.”
Feld Entertainment stirred up more chaos by arguing that one plaintiff, Thomas Rider, was not credible and was being compensated by the animal rights coalition to act as both a plaintiff and fact witness. With so many different claims, not all of them caught fire with U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who dismissed a few racketeering claims and a claim for champerty, which involves someone agreeing to support a lawsuit in return for a percentage of any money recovered. However, there were definitely enough claims that stuck for the circus to have plenty of knives to throw in trial. The animal rights coalition might just be able to avoid damages. Either way, this will be a show you won’t want to miss.