New trial ordered in kennel owner’s defamation lawsuit

By Joe Beck

A defamation lawsuit once decided in favor of Frederick County kennel owner Russell Lee Ebersole has been resurrected.

U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris scheduled a new trial for Sept. 10 on Tuesday after the defendant’s attorney argued that new evidence supported accusations she had made against Ebersole that he had beaten and abused animals in his care.

Ebersole was awarded $30,000 in September after a federal jury trial in Alexandria earlier in the year. At the time, Cacheris denied Kline-Perry’s motion for a new trial.

Ebersole had sued Kline-Perry, operator of Nosire Farms-Rare Colored Jockey Club Thoroughbreds in Purcellville, for $1.35 million. He accused her of making false and defamatory statements intended “to discredit, humiliate, and vilify” him and his kennel, Aberdeen Acres Pet Care Center in Stephenson.

Court documents filed by Kline-Perry’s attorney, Steven W. Bancroft of Fairfax, cited videotapes obtained from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office that show Ebersole abusing dogs as the reason for seeking a new trial.

The videotapes were obtained after authorities filed 13 counts of animal cruelty against Ebersole in Frederick County Circuit Court. The case is scheduled for trial June. 20.

Bancroft wrote in one court document that three videotapes “clearly show abusive behavior by (Ebersole) consistent with the testimony of defense witnesses in this case and totally inconsistent with his own sworn testimony at trial.”

One of the videos shows Ebersole jerking a puppy “completely off its feet by means of the collar and leash and beginning to swing it and jerk its neck and forth in a violent manner with all four of the animal’s feet completely off the ground,” Bancroft states in a memorandum.

Cacheris advised Ebersole and Kline-Perry to try to reach an out of court settlement before the trial, according to court documents.

Ebersole’s attorney, Andrew T. Bodoh of Richmond, said in an interview Thursday he might appeal Cacheris’s decision to schedule a new trial after the judge issues an opinion stating his reasons for doing so.

“We’re disappointed,” Bodoh said of the decision. “We look forward to receiving the judge’s opinion on the matter shortly. If it’s an issue we can appeal down the line, we may look to that as option.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com