A judge in Oregon has tossed out a lawsuit filed by a horse named Justice who was suing his owner, Gwendolyn Vercher, for $100,000 for neglect. Washington County Circuit Court judge John Knowles issued the ruling on September 18th, saying the lawsuit cannot proceed because the horse is a “non-human animal.”
The ruling stated: “The court grants with prejudice defendant’s motion to dismiss based on a lack of standing for Justice the horse. 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.” The court also argued that the case would set a precedent and lead to a flood of lawsuits filed by animals.
Justice was reportedly 300 lbs. underweight and had suffered from untreated penile frost bite. The Animal Legal Defense Fund had filed the suit on his behalf, alleging that his owner left him outside in extreme weather and did not provide adequate food or water.
Vercher called the suit “outrageous” in an interview with ABC News, although she pleaded guilty to first-degree animal neglect in July 2017. The $100,000 was to be used for further care necessary for the animal’s remaining years, Matthew Liebman, Justice’s lawyer from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, explained back in May when the suit was filed. The ALDF plans to appeal.