An Oregon horse is suing his former owner for damages relating to health issues connected to alleged neglect. If successful, the case will be the first to establish that animals have the legal right to sue their alleged abusers in court.

Last year, an 8-year-old Quarter Horse, now called Justice, was surrendered to a rescue by his owner. At the time of the surrender, he was allegedly emaciated, infested with lice, suffering from rain rot, and had swollen genitalia due to frost bite. Gwendolyn Vercher, the horse’s owner at the time of the surrender, later pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.

In May, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a personal injury complaint in the Washington County, Oregon, Circuit Court against Vercher on the animal’s behalf.

Vercher was not available for comment.

The complaint states that Justice was neglected for months causing “permanent physical and psychological injuries that will require specialized medical care for the rest of his life.”

The suit seeks $100,000 to be used for the horse’s past and ongoing care.

The ALDF said the Oregon Supreme Court has already recognized that animals should be considered individual victims in criminal cruelty cases. If successful, this case would expand remedies available to animal victims under the law.

The case remains pending.