Can Justice sue formerly abusive owner – and win?
An Oregon horse named Justice is suing his formerly abusive owner to recover costs of more than $100,000. Any funds awarded in the case would pay for the on-going medical needs of the rescued 8-year-old Quarter Horse cross.
Specifically, Justice’s prior owner neglected, abused, and abandoned him allowing the gelding to become emaciated without food or water. Additionally, the horse suffers the permanent effects of frostbite, including a prolapsed penis. Documents state “Justice will likely eventually require surgical intervention in the form of a partial amputation of his penis.”
The Animal Legal Defense Fund with legal assistance from the firm Lane Powell and the Law Office of Matt Hamity represent the horse in the civil case brought in the Circuit Court of Washington County. The animal legal advocacy group says, if successful, the suit would establish that animals have a legal right to sue their abusers.
Defendant Gwendolyn Vercher
A court sentenced Justice’s abuser defendant Gwendolyn Vercher, 51, of Cornelius to three years probation. She pleaded guilty in July 2017 to first-degree animal neglect. As a part of Vercher’s criminal plea agreement, she agreed to pay restitution to Sound Equine Options. The restitution was supposed to cover Justice’s care prior to her conviction. Although, that didn’t happen, according to the ALDF.
Justice’s guardian Kim Mosiman is the Executive Director of the horse rescue Sound Equine Options in Troutdale. As a plaintiff, she represents Justice’s interests in the suit. Mosiman created the Justice Equine Trust. The lawsuit contends the gelding’s costs and complicated medical needs are a barrier to finding the horse a home.
ALDF states the Oregon legislature and courts have been a leader in recognizing that animals are sentient beings. Additionally, the Oregon Supreme Court recognized that animals should be considered individual “victims” in criminal animal cruelty cases.
“Oregon law already recognizes Justice’s right to be free from cruelty – this lawsuit simply expands the remedies available when abusers violate animals’ legal rights,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells.
We left a message for Vercher and will let you know if we hear back. Stay with us as we continue following this case.