Three years after the SPCA raided her Morgan horse farm for alleged animal cruelty – and nearly a year into her ongoing criminal trial in the matter – Beth Lynne Hoskins has filed a civil lawsuit seeking more than $2 billion against an array of people involved in the case.
The Aurora horse farm owner filed notice of the action in State Supreme Court, through one of her attorneys, John P. Bartolomei of Niagara Falls.
The suit names the SPCA Serving Erie County and a number of its staff, including Executive Director Barbara S. Carr, veterinarians who were involved in the case, one of the prosecutors in the criminal trial and Assistant District Attorney Matthew A. Albert, among others. In total, the agency and 18 people are named.
Hoskins is in the midst of a nonjury criminal trial that began last May on 74 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty stemming from the March 18, 2010, raid.
Legal papers filed in Hoskins’ suit detail 90 specific complaints, including fraud, defamation, trespassing, abuse of the civil process, emotional distress and numerous others. She is seeking awards and judgments against the defendants totaling more than $2 billion, plus an additional $1 million per day from March 18 of this year, when she filed the suit, through the date of judgment and what the court may decide is appropriate.
In an interview Tuesday about the civil litigation, Hoskins was adamant that the three-year saga has amounted to what she termed “very illegal” actions.
“It was a premeditated setup. It was a likely extortion attempt where the SPCA lied 27 times to Justice Marky to get the warrant,” Hoskins said, referring to Aurora Town Justice Douglas Marky, who is overseeing the nonjury criminal trial.
“The SPCA has broken every rule in the book since ... This follows a national template of abuse where these types of agencies don’t have normal checks and balances, like police agencies.”
Carr declined to comment on the civil action when contacted Tuesday by The Buffalo News. SPCA attorney Alan Donatelli did not return phone calls seeking comment.
However, Carr said Hoskins owes the agency close to $170,000 in back payments since last fall toward care the agency is providing to some of her horses that remain at foster farms.
Hoskins has paid the agency $304,000 since December 2010 for care for her horses, Carr said.
Hoskins on Tuesday said the court papers – the latest of several civil actions in the case – were filed March 18, marking the third anniversary of the SPCA raid at her Emery Road farm. She said an SPCA officer told her the day of the raid that if she surrendered all of her animals that day, she would not be charged. “I looked at her, and said, ‘No,’ ” Hoskins recalled. She also said she refused to provide them with registration papers on her horses.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. If I am guilty of animal cruelty, then everyone is,” Hoskins said. “There is absolutely no standard here that applies.”
Asked about the amount she is seeking from the defendants, Hoskins declined to comment and referred those questions to her attorney.
“You have to ask John about this amount. John Bartolomei came up with the amount, independent of me,” she said.
Bartolomei did not return phone calls Tuesday seeking his comment.
Hoskins lamented the amount she has spent to date on the case. She said she has paid $320,000 in horse care bond money to the SPCA, $16,000 more than the agency says it has received. She also said she and her family have spent three-quarters of a million dollars in legal fees. She also noted that three of her horses have died under the agency’s care.
“Plus, my life has been ruined by lies. And I’ll never, ever, ever get my reputation back,” Hoskins said. “I want justice, and that’s what I’ve been trying to get.”