Equine Law Matter - Closed - Get Information, Read Court Documents

CAROL BATCHELDER, Plaintiff, v. IRON GAIT PERCHERONS INC., d/b/a IRON GAIT RESCUE JAMES ERIC BEACH and DENISE S. POLYDOR, Defendants.

No. 14CV483JH

VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES AND OTHER RELIEF

COMES NOW, Carol Batchelder, named as Plaintiff herein, and brings this, her Verified
Complaint For Damages And Other Relief, and shows this Honorable Court as follows, to wit:
I.
Plaintiff brings this Complaint as one seeking equitable and injunctive relief, thus this
Court properly has subject-matter jurisdiction over the basis of this Complaint.
2.
Defendant Iron Gait Percherons, lnc.(hereinafter “IGP”) is a Georgia non-profit
corporation maintaining its principle place of business as 114 Hancock Mountain Trail, Waleska,
Cherokee County, Georgia 30183, where service may be perfected upon its registered agent,
James E. Beach, thus venue is proper before this Court.
3.
Defendant Iron Gait Rescue is an unincorporated entity which holds the stable license
issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture for the stable located at 114 Hancock Mountain
Trail, Waleska, Cherokee County, Georgia 30183, thus venue is proper before this Court.
4.
Defendant Denise S. Polydor resides and may be served with a copy of the Summons and
Complaint in this matter at 114 Hancock Mountain Trail, Waleska, Cherokee County. Georgia
30 I 83, thus venue is proper before this Court. Said Defendant is Chief Executive Officer of
Defendant IGP.
5.
Defendant James Eric Beach resides and may be served with a copy of the Summons and
Complaint in this matter at I 14 Hancock Mountain Trail, Waleska, Cherokee County, Georgia
30 I 83, thus venue is proper before this Court. Said Defendant is Chief Financial Officer and
Secretary of Defendant IGP.
6.
Plaintiff is a resident of Gorham, New Hampshire. Plaintiff submits herself to the
jurisdiction of this Court for all matters arising from the facts giving rise to this Verified
Complaint.
Facts Giving Rise To All Counts
7.
Plaintiff hereby incorporates paragraphs I through 6 by reference as if set forth wholly
herein.
8.
On or about November 22, 2012, Plaintiff purchased two Belgian draft horses from a kill
pen in New Holland, Pennsylvania after seeing them posted on Facebook. These two horses had
been together for some time and had gained a close bond as a result of having been together for a
considerable length of time. The horses were named “Big Ben” (now “Solly”) and “Mable”
(now “Ness”) (collectively referred to as “the two horses” or “Solly and Ness”).See Exhibit “A”
(receipt) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly herein.
9.
Plaintiff went to considerable time, effort and expense to rehabilitate Solly and Ness with
veterinary care,-dental care, farrier care, quarantine and other expenses related to the
rehabilitation of the two horses.
10.
Plaintiff first approached Debra Wehmueller of Millington, Maryland for assistance with
taking care of the short-term needs of Solly and Ness, including the required 30-day quarantine.
With the help of Ms. Wehmueller, transportation was arranged from New Holland to Fellowship
Farm in Millington, Maryland. Plaintiff paid the $300.00 for the transport of the two horses. See
Exhibit “B” (receipt) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly herein.
11.
On November 26, 2012, the two horses were delivered to the Quarantine Facility for their
rehabilitation and daily care. At that time, the two horses were placed in a 200′ by 400′ paddock
with sufficient shelter and light grazing was available. At this time, the two horses were
“barefooted” and their hooves were severely overgrown and quarter cracks had developed in
their hooves.
12.
On November 30, 2012, Solly and Ness were wormed and were examined by Brook
Bowman, D.V.M. on December 5, 2012. Dr. Bowman made recommendations for the treatment
of the two horses, and prescribed penicillin for one of the horses that had developed a nasal
discharge (Ness). As prescribed, Ness was given 25cc of penicillin twice a day for ten days by
Debra Wehmueller. See Exhibit “C” (Chesapeake Vet Performed Listing) attached hereto and
incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly herein. On the same day, Dr. Bowman diagnosed
Solly as having lameness issues in the left front leg.
13.
On December 8, 2012, the two horses were treated by a farrier. The farrier, Chris
Bender, trimmed the two horses’ hooves and recommend that the quarter cracks be treated with
betadine, and Solly and Ness were treated with betadine for the remainder of their stay in
Maryland. They would be treated by the farrier again on January 30, 20 13.See Exhibit “D”
(receipt) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly herein.
14.
On December 9, 2012, the two horses were examined by Judith Flynn Cockey, an equine
dentist. The older of the two horses (“Solly”) was determined to be 19 years old and the younger
of the two horses (“Ness”) was determined to be under 15 years of age. Both of the horses’ teeth
were floated , and it was determined that Ness would need further dental work under sedation for
an overgrown tooth.
15.
During the first month of their stay in Maryland, the two horses started progressing well
and gaining weight at a healthy pace. At this point, they were taken daily for hand grazing in a
richer pasture for approximately one and one-half hours per day.
16.
During the month of December 2012, Plaintiff visited the two horses in Maryland. She
found them to be fit and well, as evidenced by the picture attached hereto as Exhibit “E” and
hereby incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly herein.
17.
At the end of their initial thirty-day stay, they were moved to another stable, Sugarland
Stables, operated by Summerwinds Stables Horse Rescue. They remained there until being
transported to Georgia. See Exhibit “F” (receipt) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as
if set forth wholly herein.
18.
After having provided for the needs of the two horses, Plaintiff began searching for a
suitable horse rescue at which these two horses could live out the remainder of their natural lives
as sanctuary horses. While several homes were found for the two horses, Plaintiff deemed them
unacceptable and the search continued.
19.
In horse rescue circles, the term “sanctuary horse” means a horse that is brought to a
certain location, there to live out the remainder of its natural life is not placed with other persons
for adoption.
20.
In February of 2013, Plaintiff contacted Defendant IGP regarding permanent sanctuary
and to inquire whether room was available for the purpose of providing the two horses with
sanctuary.
21.
Defendant Denise Polydor, CEO of IGP, advised that she would sanctuary the horses and
continue with the recommended courses of veterinary treatment and farrier treatment.
22.
Defendant Polydor further represented that the two Belgium draft horses would be
“ambassadors” of IGP.
23.
Defendant Polydor further represented that she would keep Plaintiff informed about the
two Belgian horses, their condition, their activities and their treatment. See Exhibit “G” (print of a
Facebook page) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly herein.
24.
After a telephone conversation, Plaintiff reached an agreement with Denise S. Polydor,
IGP and Iron Gait Rescue to ship the two Belgian draft horses to Georgia, where they would
reside for the remainder of their natural lives as sanctuary horses at the stable operated by IGP
and licensed to Iron Gait Rescue. As of the date of filing, Solly and Ness continue to be listed as
Sanctuary Horses on the IGP page at pinterest.com. See Exhibit “H” (print from IGP Pinterest
page) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly herein.
25.
On or about February 20, 2013, Plaintiff notified Ms. Wehmeuller that she had made the
decision to send the horses to Defendants, where they could live out the remainder of their lives
as sanctuary horses, be cared for, be used once a week for light trail rides and as part of their
children’s program and grooming lessons.
26.
On February 21, 2013, Dr. Bowman examined the horses, provided necessary
vaccinations and Health Certificates were issued.
27.
On March I, 2013, the two horses were boarded onto a transfer truck for the ride to
Georgia. They arrived at the IGP property on March 2,  2013. See Exhibit”I” (receipt) attached
hereto and incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly herein.
28.
Despite numerous promises to provide Plaintiff with information regarding the horses,
Defendant has completely and totally failed and refused to offer appropriate information, only
occasionally responding to requests for information regarding their condition and progress.
29.
Requests for photographs of the horses have gone refused and/or unanswered for the
purpose of concealing and secreting the deterioration and condition of the horses.
30.
One of the conditions Plaintiff placed upon the horses coming to live as sanctuary horses
at Defendant IGP’s facilities and under the care of Defendant Polydor and Defendant Beach was
that the two horses be true sanctuary horses, and not be adopted out.
31.
However, upon receiving pictures of Solly and Ness showing them in a depreciated
condition, Plaintiff asked Defendant Polydor about their condition. At this time, Defendant
Polydor claimed that the two horses had been adopted out and had come back in their current
underweight condition.
32.
Plaintiff sent two (2) payments of $100.00 each via PayPal to help with the care of Solly
and Ness. See Exhibits “J” and “K” (receipt) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as if
set forth wholly herein.
33.
Since arriving in the care of Defendants, Solly and Ness have been forced to live in
squalor, often being penned in a paddock with a small amount of hay covering their feces and
mud. Solly and Ness have been neglected since their arrival, having arrived as “full-weight”
horses and now having deteriorated to skin and bones.See Exhibits “L”, “M”, “N”, “0”, “P”,
“Q”, “R” and “S” (pictures) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly
herein.
34.
Defendants advertise Iron Gait Percherons, Inc. and Iron Gait Rescue as a 50l(c)(3)
organization and solicit donations both on their webpage and on their Facebook page. Persons
who adopt horses through IGP are given a charitable donation receipt for their tax records.See
Exhibit “T” (print of JGP Facebook page) and Exhibit “U” (print of donation page at
http://www.igprescue.org) attached hereto and incorporated by reference as if set forth wholly
herein.
First Cause of Action: Repudiation of Contract
35.
Plaintiff hereby incorporates paragraphs I through 34 above by reference as if set forth
wholly herein.
36.
There was clearly a contract between the parties that called for Solly and Ness to live out
the remainder of their natural lives as sanctuary horses in exchange for Defendants’ promise to
not adopt them out.
37.
Defendants, in adopting out Solly and Ness, breached the contract. However, Plaintiff
hereby repudiates the contract and chooses to sue at fraud.
38.
The contract, a verbal contract, included an offer, consideration and a bargained for
exchange lives.
39.
The offer was to care for the horses as sanctuary horses for the remainder of their natural lives.
40.
The consideration was Solly and Ness, the two Belgian draft horses.
41.
The bargained for exchange was the knowledge that Solly and Ness would never be
moved again, that Solly and ess would live out the remainder of their natural lives, that
Plaintiff would send money as she could to help with their care, that Solly and Ness would be
“ambassadors” of IGP, and that Solly and Ness would never be adopted out.
42.
As stated herein above, Plaintiff hereby repudiates the contract and chooses to sue at tort.
Second Cause of Action: Fraud
43.
Plaintiffhereby incorporates paragraphs I through 42 above by reference as if set forth
wholly herein.
44.
Defendants had no intention of keeping Solly and Ness at the IGP horse stables or
making Solly and Ness “ambassadors” of IGP.
45.
Fraud requires the presence of five (5) elements.
46.
Defendants Polydor and IGP made false representations including, inter alia, that Solly
and Ness would live out the remainder of their natural lives as sanctuary horses, that Solly and
Ness would not be adopted out to anyone and that Solly and Ness would be “ambassadors” of
Defendant IGP.
47.
Defendants Polydor and IGP knew that the statements were false (scienter).
48.
Defendants Polydor and IGP intended to induce reliance on the pati of Plaintiff, vis-a-vis,
her sending the two horses to IGP.
49.
Plaintiff did send the horses to Defendants in justifiable reliance upon their promises.
50.
Plaintiff has suffered harm as a result of the actions of the Defendants in terms of her
constant worry about the horses and their suffering and the neglect which they are experiencing
at the hands of the Defendants. Further, Plaintiff has lost a considerable amount of sleep
worrying about the horses.
51.
Plaintiff has further suffered banns in terms of the monies which she spent on purchasing
the two horses, having the two horses seen by a veterinarian, the costs associated with any dental
veterinary work, the costs associated with the farrier and shoeing of the horses.
52.
Plaintiff contends that the Defendants never intended to properly care for the horses,
despite their promises to the contrary.
54.
Plaintiff contends that the promises of allowing Solly and Ness to serve as ambassadors
of IGP were for the sole purpose of inducing her to send the horses to IGP. Defendants never
intended to employ a Belgian draft horse as an ambassador for an entity called Iron Gait
Percherons.55.
Plaintiff has been defrauded by Defendants and is entitled to a judgment on the basis of
fraud.
Third Cause of Action: Replevin
56.
Plaintiff hereby incorporates paragraphs I through 55 above by reference as if set forth
wholly herein.
57.
Plaintiff seeks the equitable remedy of replevin.
58.
Plaintiff gave the two horses, Solly and Ness, to Defendants on the conditions that the
two horses remained at the IGP stable as sanctuary horses, that they were well-fed, that they
were cared for. that she received regular updates on their conditions and pictures of them on a
regular basis.
59.
Defendants have possession, custody and control over the two horses, which are legally
property of the Plaintiff.
60.
The two horses are not earnings of the Defendants and the Defendants do not derive
earnings from Solly and Ness.
61.
Plaintiff does not seek a writ of replevin for the purpose of delaying, hindering or
defrauding a creditor of the Debtors.
62.
Plaintiff shows that there is a substantial likelihood that she will prevail on the merits of
the case.
63.
Plaintiff shows that she fears that Defendants may dispose of the two horse prior to
rulings by this Court on the merits of the case, in an attempt to rendering this action completely
moot as to these Defendants.
64.
Plaintiff has legal ownership of Solly and Ness and has a very special interest in ensuring
that they are well and healthy.
Fourth Cause of Action: Fraud (second count)
64.
Plaintiff hereby incorporates paragraphs I through 63 above by reference as if set forth
wholly herein.
65.
Defendants promised that they would give regular updates on Solly and Ness and send
pictures of Solly and Ness to Plaintiff on a regular basis.
66.
Defendants never intended to provide Plaintiff with regular reports on the conditions of
Solly and Ness.
67.
Defendants never intended to provide Plaintiff with pictures of Solly and Ness.
68.
Defendants knew that they did not intend to provide Plaintiff with regular reports on the
conditions of Solly and Ness or with regular pictures of the two horses.
69.
Defendants knowingly made these promises as part of their plan to coerce Plaintiff into
placing the horses in their care.
70.
The facts are evidenced by the lack of communications between the patiies initiated by
any of the Defendants and the complete and total lack of pictures having been sent by the
Defendants to the Plaintiff.
71.
Plaintiff did rely on the representations of Defendants to send her regular updates on the
conditions of the two horses and regular pictures of the two horses in sending the horses to live at
the IGP stables.
72.
Plaintiff has suffered as a result of her justifiable reliance on the false representations
knowingly made by the Defendants both in sending the two horses to live at the IGP stables and
in sending money via PayPal to assist in providing for their care.
73.
Plaintiff is entitled to a judgment on the second count of fraud.
Fifth Cause of Action: Neglect
74.
Plaintiff hereby incorporates paragraphs I through 73 above by reference as if set forth
wholly herein.
75.
Upon their arrival at IGP in early March of 2013, Solly and Ness were healthy horses,
had appropriate medical care, and were a healthy weight.
76.
Since their arrival at the IGP facilities, Solly and Ness have lost a significant amount of
weight due to a lack of readily available food and due to the use of food that is not of good
quality.
77.
Solly and Ness have. since their arrival at the IGP facilities, not been properly housed and
have not been given ready access to grass.
78.
Moreover, Solly and Ness have been forced to live in squalid conditions including living
in a small paddock providing minimal shelter that is not regularly cleaned, forcing them to stand
around in their own feces and mud, which has been covered by a light dusting of hay.
79.
Additionally. Solly and Ness have open sores around their hooves, their legs and on their
faces and ears near their halters which have not been treated.
80.
On information and belief, Solly and Ness have not been seen by a veterinarian since
their anival in Georgia, despite Defendants’ representations that the recommended courses of
treatment would be followed to the letter of the law. Defendants have not continued the
veterinary care, the dental care or the farrier care to resolve Solly’s lameness.
81.
On further information and belief, Solly has not continued the recommended course of
farrier treatment and Ness has not had her teeth floated as recommended.
click to view remainder of complaint below