Forest Stearns, who was found not guilty of animal cruelty after a bench trial in February, has filed a civil complaint against his accusers in that case.

Filed in Teton County District Court on Friday, the complaint seeks damages for defamation, interference with a business contract and civil conspiracy.

Named as defendants in the complaint are Mary Wendell Lampton, Leigh Vogel, Robin Winters, Pia Valar, Liz Hirschland, Barbara Zimmer, Cody Sloan, Kim Harrington and others who have not yet been identified.

Dick Mulligan, attorney for Stearns, estimates his client will seek $1 million in damages, at least.

“I think it might have been a low estimate,” Mulligan told the Jackson Hole Daily.

In the 28-page complaint, Mulligan says the defendants ruined his client’s reputation and caused Stearns to lose his outfitting business.

“The outrageous misconduct of defendants is beyond all bounds of decency and wholly intolerable in a civilized society,” Mulligan wrote.

Stearns is seeking compensatory damages “in amounts to be proven at trial,” punitive damages “for their willful and wanton misconduct,” costs and attorney fees, and other relief as the court deems just and proper.

Stearns was cited for cruelty to animals by the Teton County Sheriff’s Office in August 2017 after a video taken by Lampton was put online. The video showed Stearns with a horse named Buddy tied to a fence post and lying on his side to be shod.

Buddy’s subsequent death was the focus of the criminal investigation.

The civil complaint says Lampton and the other defendants published false statements about Stearns on a widely shared Facebook page originally called, “Justice for Horses of Stearns Outfitters — Wyoming.”

It also says the defendants got Stearns’ permits and licenses taken away by calling Brooks Lake Lodge and the State of Wyoming Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides. The complaint alleges that the page’s administrator posted numerous calls to action, including asking people to contact all businesses that would refer people to Stearns Outfitters.

On Feb. 27, Teton County Circuit Court Judge James Radda found Stearns not guilty.

But even after the acquittal, Mulligan said in the complaint, the defendants continued to post defamatory information about his client online.

The Facebook page “Justice for Horses of Stearns Outfitters — Wyoming,” has since been renamed to “Justice for Buddy — Wilson, Wyoming.” The page had 1,459 “likes” as of Sunday afternoon, with 1,557 people following it.

Read more about the case in Wednesday’s edition of the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066, courts@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGcourts.

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(22) comments

rich quinlan

Yep , blame the messengers and harass them with a frivolous lawsuit to make sure none of those nosy troublemakers speak up again. I wish each time the JHNG posts a story on Sterns that they would also post the photo of Stearns circling the horse drawn and quartered on the ground which died while in his care.

Terry Milan

Looks like the gist of the suits revolves around what these people said about him outside of court via social media. Can people cause injury to another by posting to social media or is it an exercise in the 1st Amendment. This case will be kicked up and down between local courts and the feds. Big payday coming for Jackson lawyers.

Ken Chison

Social media is no different than running an ad in the newspaper or printing it on a billboard. Sue Forrest,Sue! Get everyone of them involved in their little save the world scheme.

Jay Westemeier

Mr. Chison, for someone who constantly rails against everything "liberal", I find it hilarious that you now advocate "sue Forest, sue" and for suppressing freedom of speech. Aren't frivolous lawsuits typically thought to be a "liberal" thing? The people you want to be sued did nothing but state their opinions to local and state businesses and organizations. It was up to those entities to decide to take action against Mr. Stearns. Any competent judge and/or jury will look closely at Mr. Stearn's business to determine adequate compensation if he feels this case to be valid. Based on Stearn's business earnings and reputation, I'd be shocked if that compensation is substantial. Probably enough to cover attorney fees if he's lucky. With today's social media, even people of Wyoming should realize that their business and actions aren't secrets anymore.

Michael Ganey

What about the chicken farmer or the pig farmer or even the poor cows that get slaughtered on the daily .. ?? Get a grip people, the guy was found NOT GUILTY!! If the judge had found him guilty you all would be saying yaaaa for the judge and buddy... but now your all crying and whimpering .. Jackson has become a bunch of whining people putting there noses into other peoples business.. I hope the judge awardes him 1mil from each person involved.. then maybe those people who want to get involved will be like ,,hummm maybe I should just do some gardening instead... everything DIES!!!

Ken Chison

Here come all the bleeding heart liberals out of the woodwork. Defamation is a serious offense and you should not try ruining a person's livelihood on hearsay and a few pictures. Unruly horses can be a handful, but, I do not believe there was sound evidence of how it died. Once again, too many do gooders sticking their noses where they don't belong. I hope he Sue's the heck out of them, especially now that there is no way of being tried for something he was found innocent of. And shame on you Brooks Lake Lodge forgiving in to all these bleeding hearts when you didn't know how this case would turn out. You'll never get another dime from me or my family. I typical BLM and antifa tactic.Like I always say about Jackson hole. They will rally around when an animal gets hurt or injured and killed, but when it comes to human issues they turn a blind eye.

michael sandidge

Maybe you should be investigated.

Ken Chison

Yeah Michael, maybe I should be. See, why you sit on your lazy butt sticking your nose in other people's business, I have the luxury of enjoying the back country on either horseback or foot. See, we as humans have a say on what lives and what dies. Got a dog that won't hunt? Gone. Got a cat that won't mouse? Gone. Got a horse that won't pack and can't ride? Gone. We would strap horses to a table and put them on their side to shoe them all the time growing up. Unruly ones were spring bear bait. That's life and that's real world.Now I guess you all can get on your little social media sites and try and ruin the judge and Hunter. You can yell at them in public. Try to get them kicked out of a restaurant or bar, or just learn to live with it and for once, mind your own business. Or maybe you can have a protest in the old town square, tip over and burn a few cars and than ransack a few stores to get your point across. Which will it be?

Jay Westemeier

Be careful what you wish for Ken C.

Jay Westemeier

Mr. Stearn's business wasn't very successful before all of this. If you want to shame Brooks Lake Lodge for revoking his permit, why not also bad mouth the Wyoming Board of Outfitters & Professional Guides that took his license away? A peer group within his own profession saw enough to do that. Maybe Mr. Chison and his buddies should offer Mr. Stearns all of that money they'll no longer spend at the Lodge. That five bucks might be enough to pay for Stearn's lawyer.

TERRENCE MILAN

This looks like the, others not yet identified list.

Cheri Domer

This useless excuse for a human has a lot of gaul.

michael sandidge

Absolutely!

Ken Chison

Don't you mean humans? The way that Mary,Pat, Kim and all the others who attacked this man and tried ruining him. You are right, though,. That takes Gaul. These are straight out tactics condoned by and used by the liberals. Can't wait to see how fast they scramble to get a go fund me account set up to help them pay for their stupid antics.

rich quinlan

Was this attorney completely inebriated when he wrote up this suit

rich quinlan

So the scumbags resurface....you know its one thing for a animal abuser to get away with killing horses , its another thing for an officer of the court to participate in this type of harassing legal action . But the local judge , sheriff , and some version of a vet supported this killer. Disgusting on any level !

Jean Reiland

Wyoming is a beautiful place. But it has laws and mental attitudes that live in the past, and have no place in today's society.

Ken Chison

Does someone need their safe space and a coloring book? We are in Wyoming,. We kill things!

Lisa Giordano

[thumbdown][thumbdown] the judge should throw this case out. He's being a spoiled brat.

Pat Sides

Stearns should be tied to a post & "shod" any state but the animal killer state of Wyoming he would have been locked up - outrageous

Ken Chison

Nope. If it's his horse he can do with it what he wants. Just like a cat, dog, goat, chicken, llama, ferret, snake, lizard, etc. We always take our rifles off our horses while walking them. That way if they take off, we can guarantee we don't lose a good saddle.

Eugene Kiedrowski

Judge should award him one dollar that's all this scumbag's reputation is worth.

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