The Gulfstream Park racetrack in Florida has been accused by its former general counsel of polluting a canal leading to the Intracoastal Waterway with horse manure. Michael Fucheck, who served as the track’s top lawyer for nine years, recently filed a federal lawsuit with evidence showing that the racetrack used portable pumps to release water contaminated with feces into the canal. This contamination comes from the build-up of manure in the horses’ stalls, pathways, and the track, which is then washed away by trainers and groundskeepers, leading to heavily contaminated water collecting in Gulfstream’s underground stormwater drainage system.
The lawsuit highlights the potential danger of horse feces, which may contain salmonella, fecal coliform, and phosphorus, posing risks to both humans and the environment. The Intercoastal Waterway is a popular recreational and business area, used by millions of people, making the pollution a significant concern.
Fucheck alleges that the track was pumping out contaminated water for at least 14 months, violating agreements with county and federal environmental agencies. However, the Stronach Group, the owner of the racetrack, has dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous,” stating that the claim is based on allegations by a former employee who was terminated in 2019. The Stronach Group insists that they have complied with all applicable laws and regulations and intends to vigorously defend against the lawsuit.
This is not the first time Gulfstream Park has been implicated in environmental infractions. In 2017, the racetrack settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for $456,000 and committed to taking measures to prevent the effluence of contaminated water.
Fucheck’s lawsuit invokes the False Claims Act, allowing whistleblowers to sue companies suspected of defrauding governmental programs. Although the U.S. government has declined to join the case at this time, Fucheck’s lawyer believes that the strength of their case is not reflected in this decision. It is possible that the government’s choice is related to budgetary issues or a plan to refer the case to the EPA. If successful, the original plaintiff could receive a percentage of recovered damages.