Animal Legal Defense Fund Attorneys Sue to Recoup $65,000 Spent Rehabilitating Neglected Indiana Horses
Lawsuit Coincides with Rescue Group’s Fight to Prevent the Return of the Eight Horses to the Marion Man Charged with Abusing Them
October 12, 2010: The United States Equine Rescue League (USERL), represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Robert Collier entered into a settlement agreement, and the case involving eight severely neglected horses seized from Collier was dismissed. USERL agreed to give up its right to the $96,500 judgment the court had awarded it in September, and Collier agreed to give up all rights in the horses and all claims against USERL. This means that full and permanent custody of the once-neglected horses now goes to USERL, which has been fostering and rehabilitating the horses since their rescue. With no chance that the horses will ever be returned to their abuser, ALDF can at last celebrate a final victory for these horses!
September 8, 2010: The Grant County Circuit Court ordered Robert Collier to pay $96,000 to the United States Equine Rescue League (USERL) for the cost of caring for eight severely neglected horses who were seized from him and Rebecca Collier in Marion County in November 2007 in a case filed by attorneys at the Animal Legal Defense Fund in June 2009. Read more...
August 11, 2009: The Animal Legal Defense Fund was back in court fighting for the eight horses who were severely neglected by Robert and Rebecca Collier of Marion, Indiana. The hearing was on the court's order that the United States Equine Rescue League (USERL), represented by ALDF, had to return the seized horses to the Colliers. ALDF filed a brief explaining why the court's order was improper and why USERL should not be compelled to return the horses.
In a great victory, the Court reversed its order and dropped all pending proceedings in the criminal case with respect to the custody of the horses. This is a huge win in the criminal case against the Colliers, and now the pending civil case against them for permanent custody of the horses will proceed in civil court. ALDF will continue to keep you posted as this case progresses.
June 30, 2009
Marion, Ind.– Represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the United States Equine Rescue League (USERL) is filing a complaint in Grant County Superior Court today against Robert and Rebecca Collier, residents of Marion, for the cost for caring for eight severely neglected horses whom the Marion-Grant County Humane Society seized from them in November 2007. USERL has been caring for the horses since their seizure and has incurred costs in excess of $65,000 providing veterinary and supportive care. Robert Collier was charged with two counts of animal cruelty and neglect in March 2008; that case is still pending.
In November 2007, the Marion-Grant County Humane Society received calls and complaints that the Colliers were neglecting many animals on their farm, including dogs and horses. When they went to their property to investigate, they discovered dogs and horses in states of severe neglect and starvation and seized them out of concern for their immediate safety. Initially, the horses were brought to a local landowner’s property for rehabilitation, but shortly thereafter Robert Collier began threatening both the horses and the landowners who were caring for them. Because of these threats, the USERL took the horses under its care, and has continuously provided medical and supportive care for the horses—care that has cost the non-profit organization an excess of $65,000 to date. By law, USERL is entitled to this compensation from Collier. Meanwhile, Collier is attempting to get the horses back without paying USERL for the care of the horses he neglected.
In addition to the civil suit, ALDF is also assisting USERL in fighting a court order in Collier’s cruelty case, which stated that the horses must be returned to Collier. However, Indiana statutes provide USERL the right to ownership of the eight horses because of Collier’s failure to pay for the costs of their care, and Indiana lien law establishes that USERL has a common law lien claim against Collier for their care. “Horses suffering from neglect experience psychological trauma in addition to the unimaginable physical pain of slowly starving to death,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund is turning to the Indiana courts to ensure that they are never returned to the lives of desperate neglect they endured while in the Colliers’ possession, and to ensure that their rescuers are not left footing the bill for their diligent and compassionate work to rehabilitate them.”
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. Photographs of the rescued horses and a copy of ALDF’s complaint are available upon request. For more information, visit www.aldf.org.