Luck continues to be an unlucky project for HBO.
The network and the American Humane Association were named in a lawsuit put forth by the AHA’s former director, alleging the embattled series covered up abuse on animals used in the horse-racing drama.
The Hollywood Reporter outlines Barbara Casey filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming she was wrongfully terminated in January 2012 after 13 years at the AHA. The suit describes how HBO and Luck‘s production company, Stewart Productions, aided and abetted abuse of horses, which were drugged, forced to work when they were sick and/or underweight, and paperwork was fudged so safety personnel on-site couldn’t keep accurate track of medical histories.
Luck starred Dustin Hoffman as Chester Bernstein, a career mobster who upon being released from prison plans to take over the Santa Anita race track with help from his long-time buddy, Gus (Dennis Farina).
Luck debuted to strong ratings and was quickly greenlit for a second season. As the debut episodes rolled out, however, allegations of animal abuse began to surface. It all came to a head when it was revealed two horses, Outlaw Yodeler and Marc’s Shadow were injured and had to be euthanized during filming of Season 1.
Casey’s lawsuit points to a third death, that of Hometrader, which occurred during the summer of 2011: “AHA told its representatives not to document this horse’s death because he was killed during a summer hiatus from filming and therefore ‘did not count.’”
“We took every precaution to ensure that our horses were treated humanely and with the utmost care, exceeding every safeguard of all protocols and guidelines required of the production. Barbara Casey was not an employee of HBO, and any questions regarding her employment should be directed to the AHA,” HBO said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
Casey is seeking punitive and general damages.