A state Supreme Court judge in New York has refused to dismiss a stinging legal case against the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation brought by the state's top lawyer.
Judge Anil Singh said the foundation failed to meet the legal thresholds to have Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's lawsuit, which alleges a host of complaints, including that horses were mistreated under the group's care, tossed out. The Sept. 13 ruling means discovery in the case can now begin. The judge has set a conference date of Nov. 7 for the sides to meet.
"New York and the nation need the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation to succeed. But unfortunately, TRF's board has driven this vital organization into the ground, threatening its mission and the very horses it is supposed to protect,'' Schneiderman said in a statement.
In legal papers seeking to dismiss the case, TRF denies the claims by the attorney general, and say it has reduced its herds─now totaling 1,000 horses in 25 states─by 23% since 2006 as a result of a concerted effort by the foundation's board. The group also maintains, the judge wrote, that horses under its care are in "excellent'' health.
"The defendants argue that the complaint should be dismissed because it is based on falsehoods and distortions that are directly contradicted by documentary evidence,'' the judge wrote in the rule.
Besides insisting on the health of the herd, TRF has also rejected the attorney general's claims that its board violated a series of fiduciary responsibilities. As one of its routes to try to get the case dismissed, the TRF argued that a common law "business judgment rule'' protects the board from decisions it makes in good faith.
"However, the rule does not extend to insulate improper acts by board members,'' the judge wrote.
The judge, based in Manhattan, added: "The defendants have not addressed the right of the NYAG to bring any of these claims, but instead call upon the court to dismiss the action upon the credibility of their witnesses. The only oblique reference to any of these statutes is the clearly erroneous assertion by the defendants that the NYAG has not alleged a lack of good faith... However, the complaint is replete with such allegations.''
Schneiderman is asking the court in his lawsuit for a number of remedies, including removal of the TRF board of directors and blocking any further horses from coming under the care of the foundation.