A former employee of the American Humane Association has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against that organization and HBO, saying she witnessed the widespread abuse of horses used in the making of the now-canceled HBO series “Luck” and that she was fired to keep her from reporting her findings.
The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 31 in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Barbara Casey, who worked for the American Humane Association for about 13 years, helping to supervise humane officers and animal safety representatives on film and television projects.
In a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Casey said that she observed “ongoing, systematic and unlawful animal abuse and cruelty toward the horses” during the making of “Luck” between 2010 and 2012.
Ms. Casey said in the suit that she had “repeatedly complained” about horses being “abused, neglected and/or mistreated on the set.” But she said her employment was terminated by the American Humane Association last January “in order to prevent her from reporting the Production Defendants’ violation of animal abuse and cruelty laws and/or in retaliation for her efforts in reporting same.”
uit that she had “repeatedly compla
Last March HBO canceled “Luck,” its high-profile drama about gambling and horse-racing, after acknowledging that horses had been injured and euthanized during the filming of the series. Though the network faced scrutiny from advocacy groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, HBO said then that it had “maintained the highest safety standards possible” on “Luck” and had instituted “safety protocols that go above and beyond typical film and TV industry standards and practices.”
In a statement on Thursday, HBO reiterated that it 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.” The network said that Ms. Casey was not an employee of HBO, and referred questions about her to the American Humane Association.
A press representative for the American Humane Association declined to comment on the lawsuit.