PORTLAND, Ore. — The plaintiff in an Oregon civil case is listed as "Justice, an American Quarter Horse." Through his current guardian, Kim Mosiman, Justice is suing his former owner Gwendolyn Vercher for "pain, distress, and permanent injury" due to criminal neglect.
Justice is asking for at least $100,000 from his former owner to pay for past and future medical expenses, attorney fees, and pain and suffering.
The suit claims that Oregon law and legal precedent has established that a horse is a 'sentient being,' and can be 'the victim of the crime—an animal entitled to statutory protection.'
"Oregon courts recognize both that animals are victims and that victims have a right to sue their abusers," the suit claims.
According to the lawsuit, the 8-year-old quarter horse was liberated from Vercher's property by Oregon Horse Rescue in March of 2017 after a neighbor called to report that Justice (formerly Shadow) appeared underfed and neglected.
A veterinarian determined that Justice was 300 pounds underweight, infested with lice and covered in scabs, with frostbite and severe infection to his penis that led to a buildup of scar tissue. Justice's penis appears to be permanently damaged and no longer functions as it should.
Ordinarily, a male horse's genitalia can and should extend or contract as the the situation mandates—in Justice's case, the suit claims, his penis is 'prolapsed' and is unable to contract, even a year after his recovery and with multiple medical procedures.
Although Vercher faced criminal charges—and was sentenced to three years on probation for animal neglect—Justice is now suing her for damages and to cover his medical treatment. The lawsuit claims that Justice will need continuing medical care for the rest of his life.
Justice is represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
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