Racehorse Rescue Activist Defamation Defense
Truth is Successful Defense for Racehorse Rescue Activist in Defamation Lawsuit
Isaac Wiles provided a successful pro bono defense of a thoroughbred rescue activist, who found that her passionate advocacy for retired racehorses is not without risk.
When she discovered a horse in the kill pen with a telltale lip tattoo, she traced it back to a breeder and trainer who races horses in northern Ohio. Many tracks have agreements with racehorse owners stipulating that horses will not be sent to slaughter after their racing days are over. She reported it to the track, which barred the breeder from racing there.
The activist also asked the breeder for money for veterinary care. He denied that he had sent the horse to the kill pen and claimed she was extorting money by threatening to ruin his reputation. She took the case to social media to raise awareness of the horse’s plight. The breeder took her and the racetrack to court.
The extortion claim was quickly dismissed, and Isaac Wiles partner Maribeth Meluch argued in U.S. District Court that defamation and false light claims were baseless because the activist spoke the truth. The court agreed, granting summary judgment on the track and activist’s motion and bringing the case to a close.