A protracted legal battle between the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) and the New York Attorney General’s (NYAG) office ended at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 19 when a settlement was signed.
From: The Horse
By: Eric Mitchell
The complaint filed by N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman back in May 2012 was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning the allegations of herd neglect and abuse cannot be asserted against the TRF again, according to a TRF announcement. In exchange, the TRF has agreed to the appointment of three independent directors and the creation of a method for selecting a new paid executive director, who will report to the board chairman and board members of the TRF.
“Our herd—just under 1,000 horses—remains in fine condition as we head into winter, just as it has been through this entire ordeal,” said John Moore III, chairman for the TRF in a prepared statement. “We are relieved to have behind us this nuisance suit that the NYAG should be embarrassed to have initiated.”
In May 2012, Schneiderman pushed forward with the case based on affidavits from a whistleblower and a veterinarian, who alleged a pattern of abuse spread across satellite farms from New York to Kentucky to Oklahoma. At the time, the TRF reported it had about 1,100 horses under its care.
“New York needs the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation to be fiscally sound and responsibly managed,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Our agreement to remake the board of directors will help put this important charity back on solid financial ground and able to care for the animals it receives—and it gives TRF a shot to reclaim its place as one of America’s leading Thoroughbred organizations. As it was previously constituted, the foundation’s board proved unable to conduct necessary financial oversight and management.”
Schneiderman’s lawsuit sought the removal of the responsible directors. Per the conditions of the settlement, Moore and long-time director Diana Pikulski will resign within a year of the new executive director being hired and no later than August 2015, when their current terms were due to expire. Pikulski will also discontinue her service as vice president of external affairs when a new executive director is hired but will move into a position as director of external affairs and will continue at the discretion of the board.
Contacted Nov. 19, Moore again said he believes the lawsuit was a huge waste of time and money for all involved.
“It is an awful shame that it cost us $750,000 and thousands of hours of wasted management time to roll back a pile of lies,” Moore said. “There was never any question about the health of the herd—never. No horses died. No horses starved.”