A US district judge has ordered a new trial in a Virgina kennel lawsuit. Why the new suit? The kennel owner may have engaged in jury misconduct. The plaintiff in that trial, Russell Ebersole, won a $30,000 settlement against Bridget Kline-Perry, who accused him of animal abuse. Kline-Perry’s accusations were made in the form of Facebook comments, which led to the libel suit by Ebersole, who sought $1.35 million in damages. Ebersole denied the abuse and claimed Kline-Perry was trying humiliate and discredit him.
Judge Vacates Previous Facebook Defamation Kennel Lawsuit
Judge James C. Cacheris explained the vacated September 2012 jury decision by citing recently obtained, “highly negative” video evidence that prevented the defendant from properly making her case at trial. According to reports, the videos show Ebersole kicking a dog and yanking on its leash hard enough to cause it to cry in pain. He also allegedly used a leash to lift a puppy off its feet and violently shake and swing it. The taped incidents supposedly occurred at Aberdeen Acres Pet Care Center, located in the town of Stephenson. Ebersole owns the center.
The videos were obtained by Steven Bancroft, who is Kline-Perry’s defense attorney, after authorities in Frederick County charged Ebersole with 13 counts of cruelty to animals. Despite a subpoena, the videos were not made available to Kline-Perry at the time of the trial. Ebersole is the creator and owner of the videos, which had been seized by local officials. Judge Cacheris explained that since Ebersole failed to inform Kline-Perry or her attorney about the videos during the discovery phase, he was engaging in misconduct.
Plaintiffs in the Kennel Lawsuit Are Not Pleased With The Judge’s New Decision
Ebersole’s attorney, Andrew Bodoh, stated that he was displeased with the judge’s decision and will most likely file an appeal against a new trial in the kennel lawsuit case. Bancroft said that in his three decades of law practice, he had never seen a judge vacate a jury decision without a very good reason.
Judge Cacheris has encouraged Ebersole and Kline-Perry to attempt to reach a satisfactory settlement outside of court. If that does not take place, the new trial is scheduled begin on September 10, 2013.
Neither Ebersole nor his attorney could be reached for further comment.