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Animal advocates settle suit against Santa Anita Park track owners

Santa Anita
Recent horse deaths at Santa Anita Park have generated national attention and led to protests.
(Getty Images)

Self-described horse- and animal-rights advocates who sued the owners of Santa Anita Park, alleging their constitutional rights were violated when guards prevented most of them from protesting horse deaths at the facility, reached a settlement of their case.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed court papers Tuesday with Los Angeles Superior Court Richard Fruin stating that the case they filed against Stronach Group on May 30 was resolved. No terms were divulged.

According to the suit, eight of the plaintiffs attempted to demonstrate and pass out leaflets in the parking lot and public walkways outside the track March 3 but were prevented from doing so and some of their members were battered and imprisoned by track security guards.

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The suit sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The group, carrying megaphones and signs with slogans denouncing the park,

were blocked by two groups of security guards as they tried to walk toward the admissions area, the suit stated.

A park employee who was not in a security guard uniform grabbed a plaintiff by one arm, removed her camera and threw it to the ground, the suit states. A guard then handcuffed her, according to the suit.

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The same two employees ripped a sign from another plaintiff who also was handcuffed, the suit states. Three plaintiffs who tried to record what was happening to their two colleagues were blocked from doing so by guards using their hands and bodies, the suit stated.

Three of the plaintiffs were later cited by Arcadia police for trespassing, but no charges were filed, according to the suit.

On Oct. 3, Fruin denied a request by the plaintiffs to be allowed to protest in the parking lot, walkways and gate areas of the venue that do not require a ticket during the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 1-2. The judge said the venue had a legitimate reason to exclude protesters from those areas, which are on private property, for the safety of guests and to facilitate traffic. He said the track had provided an area outside Gate 5, one of four public gates to the park, where people could gather to publicly express their views.


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