Lawsuit Seeks Compensation for Reproductive Lab Fire

A Colorado woman is seeking $1 million to compensate for losses suffered when fire destroyed the Equine Reproductive Laboratory at Colorado State University (CSU) last year.

The CSU Equine Reproduction Laboratory is a teaching, research, and service facility. On July 26, 2011 the laboratory was destroyed by a fire that caused $12 million damage to the facility. Frozen equine semen stored at the facility were lost in the blaze.

On Aug. 13, the attorneys representing the owner of 10 straws of semen lost during the fire filed suit in Larimer County, Colo., District Court seeking compensation for breeding materials lost in the fire. According to the lawsuit, in 2009 Heather Foster placed 10 semen straws collected from her champion stallion Tetra Gold at the CSU laboratory; Tetra Gold was later euthanized. The collected semen was intended to preserve the horse's bloodline, via injection into eggs of suitable mares. In 2010, Foster purchased the mare Lady Sierras, for the sole purpose of harvesting her eggs for injecting the horse with Tetra Gold's preserved semen, the attorneys said.

The suit requests $1 million in damages due to CSU's alleged breech of contract for failing to protect the semen samples, along with legal and other litigation-related fees. Gordon Hadfield, Forster's attorney said that CSU's insurance company had offered his client between $3,000 and $5,000 in credits for service at the Equine Reproduction laboratory. Damages requested in the lawsuit represent Foster's real long-term losses, he said.

"Some of Lady Sierra's foals have sold for as much as $225,000 and one of her daughters, Pizzazzy Lady, sold for $125,000 at the Rita Crundwell horse auction in Dixon, Ill.," Hadfield said. "We based the damages on the loss of 32 foals at $35,000 a piece.

No one from CSU was available to comment on the litigation.

Court documents provided by Hadfield show that the Colorado Attorney General representing CSU in the litigation has asked the court to dismiss the case on technical grounds.

The case remains pending.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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