Consumer Fraud Lawsuit Against UniverSoul Circus Heads to Trial

For Immediate Release:
January 13, 2017

Contact:
Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Yesterday, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ruled that UniverSoul Circus must stand trial for alleged violations of the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act. Judge Marisa Demeo found that plaintiff Melanie Sloan has legal standing to assert her claims based on her testimony that she bought tickets to the circus after reading UniverSoul’s Animal Rights Policy Statement and that she “wouldn’t have bought the tickets had I known this [statement] was a lie.”

In her ruling, Judge Demeo noted that UniverSoul Circus had presented no evidence to support its claim that it works closely with government agencies “to ensure that [its] commitment to a high standard of animal care is upheld.” She wrote, “The Court finds that a jury would not be able to find that Defendants did indeed work with such agencies as there is no indication in the record of such work.”

Commenting on the evidence, she also noted that UniverSoul Circus “concedes that Larry Carden, one of the vendors touring with the Circus when Sloan purchased her ticket, was cited for animal abuse while touring with the Circus.”

Sloan said, “I am very pleased that the court threw out the circus’s attempt to have this case dismissed. At trial, I will have the chance to show that UniverSoul is deliberately attempting to deceive parents like me by pretending to care about animals and yet uses exhibitors who treat them badly.”

Her lawyers stated that “the law entitles consumers like Ms. Sloan to truthful information, and the substantial evidence in the case shows that UniverSoul Circus has not been truthful about the neglect and mistreatment that animals exhibited in its shows have suffered.”

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind