The lawsuit filed last week by Attorney General Gary King against Valley Meat in Santa Fe will not likely be heard in the next few days, according to the attorney for the proposed horse slaughter facility.
King asked the court to immediately block Valley Meat from opening after a federal appeals court in Colorado vacated a temporary ban on the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections at horse slaughterhouse facilities.
Valley Meat was expected to open Jan. 1. The plant’s attorney asked for the first judge to be dismissed. The case will be reassigned, said Attorney A. Blair Dunn.
King’s move is the latest roadblock Valley Meat has faced in a long line of legal battles in the past two years.
The small slaughterhouse, owned by Rick De Los Santos, plans to process 120 horses a day. The packaged meat will be shipped and sold outside of the U.S.
King’s 25-page lawsuit — that describes maggot mounds, accusations of violations and animal medication — is misleading, Dunn said.
“This is one of those that you have to believe an alien abduction occurred in this story line, for any of this to be true,” Dunn said. “You have to suspend reason and logic, and literally believe someone was abducted by an alien, to believe this story.”
The suit called for immediate action because the plant posed a threat to human health.
“It requires you to first believe that every horse that enters the plant is toxic. That’s just not true,” Dunn said. “First, there is no scientific basis for that claim. The basis for all these claims is made-up facts and bad science.”
King did not have time to comment Monday, his spokesman said. His office had not yet answered questions about the case Thursday night.
“He’s pretty much spoken about it,” said his spokesman, Phil Sisneros.
King sued Valley Meat under New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act, attempting to define Valley Meat’s proposed business as an unfair or deceptive trade practice meant to mislead or confuse buyers.
By filing the suit this way, King was able to skirt the issue of having to post a bond to pay for loss of potential business to Valley Meat if a judge puts in place a temporary restraining order.
“We sued under the unfair practices act,” Sisneros said. “It exempts (the state) from having to present a bond.”
Sisneros questioned the nearly $500,000 bond awarded to Valley Meat and an Iowa plant involved in the suit against the USDA that the AG, the Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights activists recently fought.
“Whatever what’s his face, Blair Dunn, said is wrong (about damages of $500,000 per month to Valley Meat),” Sisneros said. “It makes me wonder about his legal credentials.”
When asked about how the AG’s office was funding the continued lawsuits against Valley Meat, Sisneros said the legal fees were paid from public funds.
“It’s what we do,” Sisneros said.
Sisneros declined to answer any further questions.
“I don’t think you’re quite informed about the issue,” Sisneros told The Record.
King has publicly spoken against horse slaughter and has litigated against Valley Meat and the USDA.
Most recently, the AG’s office hired a San Francisco-based attorney, also an attorney for the Humane Society, to argue against Valley Meat at a New Mexico Environment Department hearing held in Roswell. The AG’s office hired an expert during the hearing, asking the state agency to deny Valley Meat a groundwater permit.
NMED has not released a final ruling on Valley Meat’s permit.
King, a Democrat, has declared his intention to run for governor in 2014.
“This is a personal thing by Gary (King) and Sisneros. They are trying to destroy a Hispanic business. And for what reason? Just for his political gain,” Dunn said.