Kersten Files Suit Against EAGALA
OK Corral Series
October 22, 2007
Greg Kersten, co-founder of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) of Santaquin, Utah, filed suit against the nonprofit June 26, 2007 in the Fourth Judicial District Court of Utah. The lawsuit (case no. 070401941) is in the name of Kersten, his wife, Jennifer, and his corporation Equine Services.
The lawsuit cites claims for relief for wrongful termination, defamation, breach of intellectual property license, conversion of intellectual property, and conversion of personal property. The suit names the following as defendants: Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, Lynn D. Thomas (Utah), former board members David Currie (Georgia), Michelle DiGiacomo (California), Lisa Roskens (Nebraska), Barbara Scott (Indiana), and current board members Rhonda Smith and Tim Jobe (Texas), Amy Lomas Blossom (Illinois), and David Tidmarsh (Scotland). All defendants have responded to the lawsuit by denying all claims of wrongful termination, defamation, breach of intellectual property license, conversion of intellectual property, and conversion of personal property.
EAGALA terminated Mr. Kersten's employment with EAGALA in an email message dated November 16, 2005. The Utah Department of Workforce Services found Kersten was terminated without just cause on January 6, 2006, and again on appeal March 17, 2006. The Utah Court of Appeals upheld the decision that Kersten was terminated without just cause on February 15, 2007.
Mr. Kersten is credited as the founder of the field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), and has been training professionals in the practice of EAP since the early 1990s. Kersten alleges that EAGALA has continued to use his original training techniques and exercises without authorization after terminating his employment with EAGALA. Kersten estimates that over 90% of EAGALA's income is generated from the unauthorized use of his intellectual property.