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ALDF Lawsuit against California Animal Testing Facility Gains Support
In January 2013, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit, using the California state anti-cruelty code against an animal testing facility known as Santa Cruz Biotechnology that “harvests” blood from tens of thousands of animals. We filed this lawsuit on behalf of Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) to protect the animals housed at the facility, who have been neglected and mistreated, as evidenced by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections. The case is currently on appeal before the California Court of Appeal. Last week, the Court denied a motion filed by Santa Cruz Biotech to keep secret the names of those who have a financial interest in the outcome of the animal cruelty lawsuit filed against it by Stop Animal Exploitation Now, represented by ALDF.
The California Court of Appeal requires all parties in every case to disclose the names of those with vested interests in the case. Santa Cruz Biotech sought to file its certificate “under seal,” that is, to make it secret and unavailable to the public, purportedly because they are “fearful of harassment by animal rights activists.” ALDF fought this request, arguing that the public has a right to access court documents. The Court denied the animal testing facility’s request, ordering Santa Cruz Biotech to file its certificate publicly. This is a small but important step in our appeal: as animal research facilities try to stay in the shadows, we are committed to exposing cruelty to animals used in research.
Our lawsuit received further legal support last week, as a group of public interest legal organizations—the Los Angeles Community Action Network, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Disability Legal Rights Center, Inner City Law Center, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, National Housing Law Project, Public Counsel, Public Interest Law Project, and Western Center on Law and Poverty (represented by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles)—submitted a “friend of the court” brief to the California Court of Appeal. The brief supports SAEN’s standing under California’s Unfair Competition Law, because nonprofits like SAEN and the amici suffer real injury when lawbreakers force them to divert organizational resources to campaign against illegal conduct.
The Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments in the case sometime in the next several months, and we expect a decision on the appeal later this year. We are confident that we will be able to hold this testing facility accountable for its illegal neglect and mistreatment of sick and injured animals.
Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Senior Attorney on January 28, 2014