Judge Issues Scheduling Order in Contender Farms Second Lawsuit

Friday, August 19, 2016

United States District Judge Reed O’Connor has issued the scheduling order in the Contender Farms v. USDA.  The second lawsuit from Contender Farms v. USDA seeks to remove the lists of violators that have not been given their full due process rights under the law.  The USDA has printed Horse Industry Organization tickets and letters of warning as violations of the HPA on its web site and this case, if successful, would mandate the USDA to remove those lists and subsequent people as violators of the HPA.

As the the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found in the first Contender suit, the only party that can find and issue a penalty of the Horse Protection Act is the Secretary after the party accused is given the opportunity for a hearing.  The Humane Society of the United States and other radical animal rights groups have falsely listed thousands of violators of the HPA as they seek to convince Congress and the USDA to amend the HPA and eliminate the show horse.

In the order, Judge O’Connor sets the mediation deadline as February 8, 2017.  “The parties shall jointly select a mediator and mediate on or before February 8, 2017.  Within seven days after the mediation, the parties shall jointly prepare and file a written report, which shall be signed by counsel for each party, detailing the date on which the mediation was held, the persons present, and a statement informing the Court of the effect of the their mediation and whether this case has been settled by agreement of the parties.”

As part of the order, both parties have previously agreed that there will be no need for a trial in the case.  Other critical dates in the order include Initial Expert Designation & Report by December 12, 2016, Expert Objections by July 3, 2017, Dispositive Motions by April 10, 2017 and Completion of Discovery by March 10, 2017.