A former American Humane Association employee has sued HBO and Luck producer Stewart Production for aiding and abetting an alleged months-long abuse cover-up, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
According to the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Barbara Casey says the AHA observed drugged horses and underweight and/or sick horses routinely used to work on the show. Horses were also allegedly misidentified by producers so that animal safety reps couldn't track their medical histories.
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Casey, who worked as the director of production in the AHA's film and TV unit, says HBO and Stewart Productions wanted to save time and money and that the companies pressured AHA to allow them to violate animal safety standards.
In her lawsuit, Casey also sued the AHA and HBO for wrongful termination for firing her in January 2012 after 13 years with the organization. "AHA bowed to political and financial pressure and refused to report the Production Defendants' conduct to the authorities," Casey alleges in the suit. "AHA instructed Plaintiff not to report such conduct. AHA engaged in efforts to conceal and cover up the production defendants' criminal activities."
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HBO told THR in a statement: "We took every precaution to ensure that our horses were treated humanely and with the utmost care, exceeding every safeguard of all protocols and guidelines required of the production. Barbara Casey was not an employee of HBO, and any questions regarding her employment should be directed to the AHA." The AHA did not immediately comment.
HBO halted production on Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman, in March during early production on the show's second season after the death of three horses on set. The sudden cancellation also came after PETA said it had "sent a complaint to Los Angeles law enforcement urging the agency to investigate the deaths of two horses during the filming of the first season."
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In her lawsuit, Casey also said AHA told its representatives not to document the death of a horse because he was killed during a summer hiatus, and therefore, the death did not count.
Casey claims that it was unlawful to fire her and retaliate against her for an attempt to report criminal activity to law enforcement authorities. She is seeking general and punitive damages.