The court ruled on two motions in ongoing litigation in the Eastern District of Oklahoma on Monday surrounding Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, LLC, a park popularized nationally by Netflix’s Tiger King Series. The defendants, Jeffrey Lowe, Lauren Lowe, the park, and Tiger King, LLC, filed a partial motion to dismiss the lawsuit and their attorney, Daniel J. Card with Daniel Card Law, filed a motion to withdraw as counsel of record for the defendants. Both motions were denied by the Court.
The litigation was initially filed by the United States. The defendants were accused of violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The Court determined that the U.S. was entitled to preliminary injunctive relief. The defendants were ordered to stop exhibiting their animals, to retain a qualified veterinarian, to provide records of animal inventories and veterinarian records, to relinquish young big cats, to not acquire any more ESA or AWA protected animals without approval, and to allow routine inspections of their facility.
The plaintiff later filed a motion to enforce that order after it became evident that the defendants failed to comply with the aforementioned order in multiple ways. The US claimed that no records were provided, no veterinarian was obtained, and animals were bred without any notification to the U.S. When the defendants failed to even respond to the motion to enforce, the Court ordered a $1,000 per day fine until the defendants complied with the court’s orders.
The dismissal motion filed by the defendants claims that the AWA violations against them should be dismissed since the U.S. uses an “impermissibly broad” definition of “exhibit” when it claims that their exhibit violated the first amendment. Additionally, the defendants claimed that the U.S. failed to state a claim against Tiger King. After considering the dismissal motion, the court determined that all three claims the defendants made regarding dismissal were insufficient to warrant dismissal of the case.
Daniel J. Card was the representative of the defendants. In March of 2021, he filed a motion asking to withdraw from representing the defendants. In his reasoning, Card cited “health reasons.” Since the motion did not provide substitute counsel or a timeframe in which a new counsel would come, and the defendants have delayed litigation in the past due to gaps in representation, the motion was denied. At that time, the Court explained that the motion would have been entertained further if a new counsel was provided in replacement of Card.
Card filed a second motion to withdraw in June of 2021, citing a severe conflict with the defendants such that continued representation would be unethical. Once again, the court denied the motion and explained that “it would entertain such a motion upon the entry of appearance of new counsel for the Defendants.”