According to The Hollywood Reporter on Jan. 2, HBO and “Luck” producer Stewart Productions are being sued by Barbara Casey, who worked as the director of production in the American Humane Association’s film and television unit, for aiding and abetting an alleged months-long abuse cover-up about the horses used on the show. Casey is also suing her former employer for wrongful termination.
HBO’s show “Luck,” starring Dustin Hoffman, was cancelled in March 2012 due to claims of animal mistreatment. According to Casey’s lawsuit, she says the AHA observed drugged, underweight and/or sick horses routinely used for work on the show. She also claims misidentification of horses so that animal safety reps couldn't track medical histories of the animals.
Casey further claims that HBO and Stewart Productions pressured the AHA to allow them to violate their own animal safety standards in an effort to save time and money.
HBO claims they took every precaution to ensure the safety of the horses.
"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 holds a trademark on the “No animals were harmed” phrase used in movies and television production. According to Casey, the AHA went along with producers over her objections and desire to contact law enforcement.
"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."
When several horses died and PETA protested, the series was cancelled. HBO claims that it went “above and beyond” typical film TV industry standards and practices.
In the wrongful termination part of the lawsuit, Casey claims that she was unlawfully terminated as retaliation for attempting to report the criminal activity.