Current Cases

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Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin 
ALDF filed a lawsuit to compel the disclosure of public records concerning taxpayer-funded maternal deprivation experiments conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The suit, filed in the Circuit Court of Dane County, Wisconsin, contends that the university illegally ignored its obligations under Wisconsin’s open records law to release full records of federally-mandated animal welfare committee meetings in which the controversial research was approved.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Chicago Animal Care and Control
ALDF took the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control to court for failure to produce public documents on treatment of cats and dogs at their facility.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. FDA I
ALDF filed a lawsuit in federal court to compel the Food and Drug Administration to produce inspection reports of factory egg farms without censoring important information about the hen population and living conditions. The case is presently on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. FDA II
ALDF and Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Food and Drug Administration for withholding records related to the federal agency’s approval of the controversial animal feed additive ractopamine.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert
ALDF, along with PETA, filed the nation’s first lawsuit against ag gag legislation, taking Utah to court for infringing on the free speech rights of activists, investigators, and journalists by criminalizing undercover investigations at factory farms. Utah’s ag gag law aims to prevent animal advocates and law enforcement from collecting evidence of egregious and illegal abuse of animals on factory farms.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. LT Napa Partners LLC
ALDF filed a lawsuit against Napa-based La Toque restaurant for violating the state ban on selling and distributing force-fed foie gras products. ALDF’s undercover investigations reveal that despite the state ban, La Toque routinely sells foie gras products derived from force-feeding birds to enlarge the birds’ liver (“foie gras”). La Toque sought to dismiss the case, but the trial court ruled that ALDF’s lawsuit could go forward in an opinion that was upheld by the California Court of Appeal. The case is now stayed at the trial court pending the outcome of independent litigation challenging the constitutionality of California’s state ban on force-fed foie gras products.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Mendocino County
A coalition of animal protection and conservation groups and a local Mendocino resident filed a lawsuit against Mendocino County in the Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino, for violating the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuit challenges the county’s failure to conduct the legally-required environmental review of its $142,356 taxpayer-funded contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Wildlife Services. The contract authorizes Wildlife Services, a highly controversial federal program, to kill hundreds of animals in the county every year, including coyotes, bears, and foxes, without assessing the ecological impact or considering alternatives. In April 2015, the County suspended its contract with Wildlife Services and agreed to comply with CEQA, but afterwards claimed it was exempt from CEQA and renewed the contract in June 2015. ALDF and the other groups subsequently filed a second lawsuit against the County for improperly skirting the CEQA environmental review process.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. NYPD
Senator Tony Avella joined the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund at a press conference announcing that ALDF has filed a petition with the New York Supreme Court asking the court to force the New York Police Department to turn over enforcement records regarding the city’s horse-drawn carriage industry.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter
ALDF and a coalition of organizations dedicated to civil liberties, animal protection, food safety, labor rights, and the environment, along with journalists, won a final judgment in federal court to overturn Idaho’s attempt to silence factory farm whistle-blowers under that state’s ag gag statute. That judgment in ALDF’s favor is now on appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. USDA II

ALDF filed suit against the USDA in federal court for the agency’s undue delay in responding to ALDF’s petition to require labeling foie gras as an adulterated food product. Foie gras production requires force-feeding birds which induces severe liver disease.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Vilsack I
ALDF, three other animal rights groups, and several individual plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act by allowing adulterated poultry – in the form of foie gras – to be sold to consumers.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Vilsack II
ALDF and two concerned Iowa residents sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture in federal court for renewing Cricket Hollow Zoo’s Animal Welfare Act license despite evidence of repeated and ongoing violations of the law.

Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec v. Harris
In 2012 foie gras industry plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have suspended California’s foie gras sales ban for the duration of the litigation. The trial court preserved the law by denying the injunction, and was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On remand, however, the trial court ruled that the law violated the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. That issue is now before the Ninth Circuit where the State of California is defending the foie gras law. ALDF and other animal protection organizations have filed numerous amici curiae (friend of the court) briefs in support of the State of California in that lawsuit.

Audubon Society of Portland v. U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers
ALDF is helping to represent several conservation organizations in an environmental lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies over their plan to slaughter thousands of double-crested cormorants. The government’s plan is a misguided attempt to stave off salmon declines attributable to the Corps’ refusal to change the manner in which it operates dams.

Breaux v. Haynes

ALDF filed a lawsuit on behalf of Louisiana residents against Dixie Landin’ amusement park and its owner Sam Haynes for inhumanely confining Candy, a 50-year old chimpanzee who has been confined apart from other chimpanzees for more than 40 years. ALDF alleges that this isolation and neglect violate the Endangered Species Act in a groundbreaking lawsuit that should extend important legal protections to chimpanzees.

Compassion Over Killing v. FDA
ALDF and Compassion Over Killing filed a complaint in a federal district court in Oakland against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Agriculture Marketing Service, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for failing to regulate animal welfare labeling on egg cartons. The district court dismissed the case, and that decision is currently on appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where ALDF is arguing that the federal government has broad authority to regulate misleading claims in order to protect consumer interests.

Gordon v. University of Texas Medical Branch

ALDF filed a whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of the former attending veterinarian and executive director of the Animal Resources Center of the University of Texas Medical Branch alleging violation of his civil rights and wrongful termination under the Texas Whistleblower Act because he refused to engage in or support the continued violations of the Animal Welfare Act. ALDF filed the lawsuit with the Silverman Law Group, the Law Office of Jennifer D. Ward, PLLC.

Graham v. San Antonio Zoological Society

ALDF filed a lawsuit on behalf of local residents against the San Antonio Zoo for providing unsuitable shelter and housing conditions to Lucky, a solitary Asian elephant. ALDF is seeking to have Lucky moved to a sanctuary where she can enjoy better living conditions and the companionship of other elephants.

Griggs v. Furry Babies
A group of consumers filed a lawsuit in LaSalle County Circuit Court against the Chicago pet store chain Furry Babies, Inc., claiming that the store sold sick puppies from puppy mills to unsuspecting consumers in violation of state consumer protection laws.

Keith v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
ALDF and several Pennsylvania taxpayers sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to nullify regulations that permit puppy mills to confine mother dogs on wire flooring while providing only daily access to an exercise area. The lawsuit alleges that these regulations conflict with state law that requires the use of solid flooring for mother dogs along with unfettered access to an exercise area.

Ketcham v. U.S. National Park Service

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Jamie M. Woolsey of the private Wyoming law firm Fuller, Sandefer & Associates, L.L.C., and two constitutional law professors filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of journalist Christopher Ketcham and wild bison advocate Stephany Seay, who are seeking access to Yellowstone Park’s controversial bison trapping operations that lead to the slaughter of hundreds of bison. The lawsuit argues that the First Amendment guarantees citizens and journalists reasonable, non-disruptive access to the publicly funded national park.

NRDC v. National Marine Fisheries Service
ALDF joined NRDC in suing the Federal Government for putting whales and dolphins in danger of being killed by sonar and active explosions throughout southern California and Hawaiian waters. In March 2015, a federal judge agreed with ALDF and NRDC and declared that the Navy’s extensive use of sonar in its war game exercises harmed endangered marine mammals in violation of environmental law. The parties are now waiting for the judge to decide how to remedy that violation of law.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Cooper

ALDF joined a coalition of animal protection, consumer rights, food safety, and whistleblower protection organizations and filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a North Carolina anti-sunshine law designed to deter whistleblowers and undercover investigators from publicizing information about corporate misconduct. Under the law, organizations and journalists who conduct undercover investigations, and individuals who expose improper or criminal conduct by North Carolina employers, are susceptible to suit and substantial damages if they make such evidence available to the public or the press.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Miami Seaquarium

ALDF, PETA, Orca Network, and Orca Network director Howard Garrett hit the Miami Seaquarium with a lawsuit contending that the facility’s imprisonment of suffering orca Lolita—currently held without the company of any others of her kind in a cramped tank with no protection from the harsh sun—constitutes a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Prizniak v. Animaland Zoological Park

ALDF filed suit on behalf of local residents against roadside zoo Animaland Zoological Park and its owners, James P. Melko, Jr., and Kathleen H. Melko, for violating the Endangered Species Act in failing to provide adequate care for animals housed at the facility. “Bear,” a gray wolf, and “Baby,” a Siberian tiger, are at the center of the suit, due to their ‘endangered’ status—but ALDF alleges the treatment of additional animals—including two black bears, an arctic fox, and three capuchin monkeys—violate Pennsylvania State Game Commission regulations.

Salzer v. King Kong Zoo
ALDF is assisting in legal representation of several North Carolina residents who filed a lawsuit against King Kong Zoo for violating the state’s animal cruelty law. The lawsuit alleges that the zoo causes unjustifiable pain and suffering by confining animals in small, barren cages, and failing to provide adequate veterinary care.

SeaWorld v. California Coastal Commission

ALDF and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society filed a motion to intervene in SeaWorld v. California Coastal Commission in the California Superior Court in San Diego. The organizations seek to help uphold the conditions that the Commission imposed on SeaWorld San Diego’s coastal development permit on October 8, 2015 at the behest of ALDF and other organizations. The permit conditions, which restrict breeding and transfer of orcas by Sea World, effectively require the amusement park to phase out its captive orca program if it chooses to go forward with plans to expand its facility.

Showing Animals Respect and Kindness v. California Rodeo Salinas
ALDF filed a lawsuit against the California Rodeo Salinas and its head veterinarian Tim Eastman for failing to report animal injuries to the state veterinary medical board, as required under California law. The defendants are accused of significantly underreporting the number of animals injured at the California Rodeo Salinas, the largest rodeo in the state and one of the largest in the country. In the last two years, the nonprofit SHARK has documented injuries to 41 animals—yet the rodeo has reported only four of those injuries. The lawsuit was filed in the Monterey County Superior Court on behalf of SHARK, who has had to spend its limited resources monitoring the rodeo and documenting unreported injuries to animals.

Stephens v. Hendry County
ALDF filed a lawsuit on behalf of local Hendry County residents after the county approved a primate breeding facility that could hold as many as 3,200 long-tailed macaques—a species linked with prior outbreaks of infectious disease. Hendry County approved the controversial project (“SoFlo Ag”) behind closed doors with only the facility’s supporters present and failed to hold the public hearing required by the state’s “Sunshine Law.”

Stop Animal Exploitation Now v. Board of Regents of the University of California
ALDF joined Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) in a lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California for failing to produce public records in violation of California state law.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now v. Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc.
ALDF filed a complaint on behalf of Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) against Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc., in the first-ever lawsuit against an animal research lab under California’s state cruelty law and Unfair Competition Law. The lawsuit is before the California Court of Appeal.

Vancleve v. Chien et Chat, Inc.

ALDF filed a class action complaint against Barkworks, a Southern California pet store chain with locations in Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Riverside counties. The lawsuit alleges that Barkworks is violating California consumer protection laws by tricking customers into buying sick puppy mill dogs.

 

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