The former director of the American Humane Association’s film and production unit alleges she was fired because she urged the AHA to report the alleged abuse of horses on the set of the HBO series Luck. In addition to suing her ex-employer for wrongful termination, Barbara Casey also is suing HBO and Stewart Productions for “aiding and abetting” a cover-up of the alleged abuse in the complaint filed Monday in LA County Superior Court (read it here). “AHA bowed to political and financial pressure and refused to report the production defendants’ conduct to the authorities”, according to the the suit. “AHA instructed (Casey) not to report such conduct. AHA engaged in efforts to conceal and cover up the production defendants’ criminal activities”. HBO announced in March that it was canceling the series, starring Dustin Hoffman, after a fourth horse died. HBO released a statement in response to the lawsuit. “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”, HBO said. AHA said in an emailed statement to Deadline that it “is unable to comment on this pending legal matter”. Casey is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. According to the suit, horses for the series were often drugged and many sick, underweight animals were routinely used. “The production defendants intentionally misidentified horses so that the humane officers and/or animal safety representatives could not track their medical histories”, the suit states. Casey alleges HBO and Stewart Productions wanted to save time and money and that rather than cooperate with AHA, “the Production Defendants pressured AHA to allow the use of unsuitable horses in an attempt to ensure that sufficient numbers of horses would be available to meet its production demands”. Casey worked for the AHA for 13 years and was fired in January, according to the complaint.
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