TV network HBO is being sued by Barbara Casey who claims she was unfairly dismissed from horseracing drama Luck.
Luck, which starred Dustin Hoffman, was axed after several animals died.
Barbara Casey, ex-director of the American Humane Association (AHA) film and production unit, says producers “engaged in ongoing, systematic and unlawful animal abuse”.
An HBO statement said precautions were taken “to ensure that our horses were treated humanely”.
Barbara Casey’s lawsuit also accuses the American Humane Association (AHA) of bending to pressure from the TV network “to allow the use of unsuitable horses”.
She said her employment was wrongfully terminated after she threatened to report animal mistreatment.
HBO added in its statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “Barbara Casey was not an employee of HBO, and any questions regarding her employment should be directed to the AHA.”
The drama, in which Dustin Hoffman starred as a crime kingpin scheming to gain control of a racecourse, was cancelled last March during filming on its second season.
Several horses were injured and put down, and a statement at the time said it was “with heartbreak that HBO have decided to cease all future production”. It was shown in the UK on Sky Atlantic.
However, Barbara Casey claims the network engaged in efforts to “conceal and cover-up” animal safety violations while filming.
She said HBO “misidentified horses so that the humane officers and/or animal safety representatives could not track their medical histories, experience and/or suitability for use”.
Barbara Casey, who held her position with the AHA for 13 years, claimed officers witnessed horses being “drugged to perform” and “underweight and sick horses unsuited for work [being] routinely used”.
AHA said in a statement to movie website Deadline that it “is unable to comment on this pending legal matter”.