Former TWHBEA Vice President Sues Organization

A former vice president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA) has filed a lawsuit accusing the organization of failing to adhere to its own corporate rules concerning membership, and of illegally sanctioning a member of its executive committee.

In a complaint filed May 20 in the Circuit Court for Putnam County, Tennessee, Pat Stout, former vice president of TWHBEA's horse shows division, accuses TWHBEA of committing illegal corporate acts and breaching its fiduciary duties. Stout also accuses the group of a breach of contract, libel, defamation, and civil conspiracy.

The complaint indicates that the accusations stem from a 2013 poll asking TWHBEA members if they support the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which would amend the Horse Protection Act to stiffen penalties for those who sore Tennessee Walkers and other gaited horses. The act would also ban the use of action devices including metal chains, stacks, and pads.

In the complaint, Stout claims she was illegally stripped of her lifetime TWHBEA membership and her position on the group's executive committee after a group of anti-soring advocates suggested conducting the poll of TWHBEA members. Stout consented to the use of her name in connection with the poll, the complaint said, and used her private funds to hire an independent accounting firm to determine its results.

“Pro-soring members of TWHBEA were livid to find that Mrs. Stout had participated in this attempt to determine members' true feelings on this issue,” the complaint said.

The complaint alleges that, as a result of her role in the poll, TWHBEA's executive committee suspended Stout's privileges within the organization, prohibited her from showing horses at TWHBEA shows and exhibitions, and imposed increased fees on Stout's use of the TWHBEA breed registry. The complaint alleges that TWHBEA's actions increased Stout's cost of doing business and prevented her from marketing her horses through TWHBEA-sanctioned exhibitions.

Finally, the complaint alleges that TWHBEA published “false and defamatory statements” regarding Stout on its website and through emails.

Tracy Boyd, TWHBEA executive director, said the group is in the process of reviewing the complaint but declined to comment further.

The complaint seeks temporary and permanent injunctions relative to Stout's TWHBEA suspensions as well as $1 million is actual and punitive damages.

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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