Civil suit brought by disgraced outfitter dismissed

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — A civil suit brought by an outfitter based in Wilson against three individuals has been dismissed by a district court judge.

Forest Stearns had been seeking a reported one million dollars for what he alleged was defamation of his character, civil conspiracy and interference with a business contract. The suit was brought after Stearns was found not guilty last February of abusing a horse in his pack string that eventually died while he had it tied down and stretched out on the ground during shoeing.

The three defendants—Mary Wendell Lampton, Leigh Vogel, and Pia Valar—had been among those most critical of Stearns’ methods and expressed their opinions on a Facebook page they created called Justice for Buddy. It was a place where hundreds came to vent their frustrations against Stearns for his treatment of Buddy the horse as well as other allegations in the past of similar abuse.

Stearns ended up losing his outfitter business due to the controversy over the incident.

“When animals like Buddy are failed miserably and are helpless, blaming and suing those who recognize their pain and suffering is not the answer,” stated Vogel on the Facebook page following the news this week. “I hope that the dismissal of this case is helpful to people in reporting cruelty.”

District Court Judge Tim Day dismissed the case with prejudice on December 9. The order means the case is dismissed permanently and cannot be brought back to court.

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