ASPCA To Pay $9.3 Million To Settle Ringling Bros. Lawsuit

The ASPCA will pay $9.3 million to settle a lawsuit against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus that claimed the circus abused its elephants.

The original complaint against the circus was filed by the ASPCA, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Fund for Animals, and Tom Rider, a former Ringling Bros. employee. The case was dismissed a year later but reinstated in 2003 when an appellate ruled that, if Rider could prove he was injured because of the circus’s treatment of the elephants, the case would be allowed to proceed.

Feld Entertainment, the producers of Ringling Bros, countersued the animal rights groups and accused them of conspiracy to harm its business.

The trial began on February 4, 2009, and the US District Court ruled in Feld Entertainment’s favor on December 30, 2009. The court stated that “Mr. Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible, and therefore affords no weight to his testimony regarding the matters discussed herein.”

Feld Entertainment announced the settlement Friday. Chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld said in a statement:

“These defendants attempted to destroy our family-owned business with a hired plaintiff who made statements that the court did not believe. Animal activists have been attacking our family, our company, and our employees for decades because they oppose animals in circuses. This settlement is a vindication not just for the company but also for the dedicated men and women who spend their lives working and caring for all the animals with Ringling Bros. in the face of such targeted, malicious rhetoric.”

Ringling Bros. recently paid a $270,000 fine after inspectors found that their animals’ living conditions did not meet federal guidelines. Some of the incidents included an elephant being forced to perform while sick and food being to delivered to tigers in wheelbarrows that were used to transport their waste.