Teen’s livestock show ban prompts Houston County lawsuit

awoolen@macon.comDecember 13, 2013 

PERRY -- A teenager and her father are suing the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority following a ruling that blocks the 14-year-old from future livestock competitions.

Kelsie Norton’s hog tested positive for a banned medication during the Georgia National Fair in October.

In such cases, an exhibitor is banned from livestock competitions at the fair -- and the Georgia National Junior Livestock Show -- for one year, according to court documents and the Georgia National Fair rule book.

Kelsie and her family, accompanied by lawyer Thomas Lehman, asked for leniency during the authority’s November board meeting.

Clayton Norton, the teen’s father, said at the time that he took the hog to a veterinarian after it began showing signs of stress while being confined to a trailer.

The veterinarian administered the drug flunixin, a banned substance for show animals when the meat could later be sold and consumed. Flunixin is used mainly for colic pain, muscle pain and joint disease, as well as to alleviate fever.

The Nortons said they were not aware the drug was prohibited, and they are upset that the board’s decision will deprive the Cairo High School freshman of her right to compete in shows during the next 12 months.

“We did everything by the book,” Clayton Norton said during the meeting.

The board did not agree. A unanimous vote upheld the ruling.

The Nortons’ lawsuit, filed in Houston County Superior Court on Dec. 2, asks for a repeal of the punishment.

Although infrequent, similar cases have happened during the 16-year tenure of Randy Moore, the Georgia National Fairground’s executive director.

“In each and every case, the authority has always enforced the rule,” he said.

He knows of no other lawsuit regarding the ban of a participant. Before entering a show, participants must check a box during the registration process stating they have read the rules.

“Show rules are fairly standard” across the country, Moore said.

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