NY Judge Rules Against TRF in Abuse Case

Retirement foundation sought delay in state's action while it appeals earlier ruling.

A state judge in Manhattan has denied a request by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation to block the attorney general’s office from beginning the discovery phase of a lawsuit over allegations of widespread abuse of horses under the care of the charitable organization.

Supreme Court Judge Anil Singh, in a Nov. 7 ruling, rejected a request to delay the discovery phase while TRF appeals an early ruling in the case.

“After careful consideration, the court finds that a stay of discovery would prejudice the attorney general’s efforts to ensure that the horses are cared for properly and treated humanely,’’ the judge wrote in the decision. “Halting discovery cannot be justified, for the ensuing delay may be detrimental to the horses. The animals, which rely on human beings for their basic needs, do not have the luxury of time.’’

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has accused the nation’s largest Thoroughbred retirement group of widespread abuse, including mistreatment that has led to equine deaths and financial mismanagement. At the very least, he is seeking the ouster of the TRF’s board of directors. The foundation has denied any wrongdoing and contends that any problems have been addressed.

But the judge noted that Schneiderman, in his bid to get the discovery process underway, said the foundation’s finances are in “total disarray’’ and that its fiscal affairs are only worsening since the attorney general’s investigation commenced. The issues include a previously undisclosed $350,000 loan taken out in July.

The attorney general said the group in September had only $6,500 in unrestricted cash and unpaid bills totaling more than $420,000; most of that, the state claims, is due to farms that care for horses taken in by the foundation.

In the state’s brief seeking to deny the TRF’s request, Schneiderman’s lawyers wrote that the foundation is more than $1.5 million in debt and has “no viable means of becoming solvent.’’

The attorney general’s office has oversight authority over charitable groups operating in New York state.