can/should we take legal action?
Please read the following information and let me know if you think we can or should take legal action, and, if so, if you have any tips about how to go about it. (I've never sought legal action for anyone/anything)
I had my two horses boarded at a moderately large facility in PA for about a year. The barn owner, we'll call him James for discretion, was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, and despite my preference for self care, I agreed to do full care, feeling comfortable with him and his facility.
Yesterday I get a phone call from my friend who also boarded her horses at the facility saying that I needed to leave work and get to the barn, there was an emergency. Upon arriving, I talked to a woman who claimed to be the owner of the property. She says that while James was renting the property from her, he did not own it, and she had been posting eviction notices for the past two months (which he was promptly tearing down) as he hadn't paid her a dime for 18 months. She told us we had 24 hours to remove or stuff and horse, everything else was going to auction. She had James forcibly removed from the property earlier that day and, mistakenly, had assumed all the horses on the farm to be his (she was unaware he had made it into a public boarding facility.) I know that legally she has no right to do anything with my horses as I do not owe her anything, but as I said she had assumed that the horses must all belong to James.
While we removed the horses and our belongings from the property and they are now safe, a couple more problems surfaced: First of all, we were able to contact James but he is (as expected) reluctant to refund the boarding fees we paid for this month, (not to mention the expense of transport off the farm, etc). Secondly, we were informed that our horses had been starved for the past four months. While we were aware of weight loss, James had convinced us it was a toxicity issue from de-worming medication. He even had published vet articles that described their conditions, but, as it turns out, it was a bunch of BS so he wouldn't need to buy much hay/grain.
What I want to know is, if the group of boarders who are now struggling to find boarding stables and are out of $500-$1500 a pop (not to mention vet bills, etc for our malnourished horses that we have been misdiagnosing for four months) would be right to attempt to file a class action lawsuit.
Any information is appreciated, I don't know much about the legal system and what we are entitled too. I'm not trying to make a buck, but I am trying to keep this terrible incident from draining my bank account while he skips off into the sunset with our money. (Just an FYI: this guy who seemed so very in love with his horses was given the option to come and pick them up, and instead he gave instructions for them all to be sent to the New Holland Auction where meat buyers are way more common then private buyers, including two mares that are pregnant and about the foal and one with a 1 week old colt at her side.)