Animal Cruelty Lawsuit Settled: Santa Cruz Hatchery Closed, Owner Agrees Not to Work with Animals for Five Years

Posted on June 12, 2012

Animal Legal Defense Fund and Compassion Over Killing Claim Victory in Lawsuit Against Cal-Cruz Based on Undercover Investigation Revealing Animal Cruelty

For immediate release:

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Cheryl Leahy, Compassion Over Killing

Cal-Cruz HatcherySanta Cruz, Calif. – Yesterday, Compassion Over Killing (COK), represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), finalized a settlement and court order resolving a lawsuit alleging widespread egregious animal abuse and neglect at Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, Inc., a Santa Cruz hatchery that processed millions of birds each year destined for the chicken and duck meat industries. The plaintiff argued the evidence documented in its undercover video of the hatchery constituted unlawful animal cruelty, in violation of the California Business and Professions Code, undermining the integrity of the market. This settlement marks the first time allegations of animal cruelty were successfully resolved using this civil law.

The parties have issued a joint statement clarifying that this settlement resolves “all claims relating to an unfair business practices lawsuit based on alleged animal cruelty at the hatchery.” Key points include:

  • “Cal-Cruz Hatcheries is no longer in operation, closed a few months ago, and has therefore agreed to no longer own, keep possess, or have custody of any animal.”
  • Hatchery owner “Brian Collins has agreed that he will not be in any way legally responsible for the welfare of animals in a commercial setting for five years.”
  • “Notwithstanding and as a term of the settlement, Cal-Cruz and Brian Collins expressly deny any liability or responsibility in the matter.”

The defendants have also agreed to pay a portion of plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees, and, according to a court order, Collins is permanently banned from treating animals as depicted in COK’s video.

The lawsuit, filed January 11, 2012, was based on an undercover video filmed by a COK investigator working inside the hatchery. The footage revealed horrific abuses including baby birds mutilated on machinery, severely injured hatchlings left to suffer for hours and unwanted chicks sprayed with a high-power hose forcing them into an egg shell disposal chute.

Days after the lawsuit was filed, Whole Foods Market issued a statement that they would no longer purchase chicken from ranches that received hatchlings from Cal-Cruz.

“We are happy knowing our lawsuit definitively ensures no more animals will suffer on this factory farm,” says Cheryl Leahy, general counsel at Compassion Over Killing. “Furthermore, this groundbreaking case paves a new way to seek–and achieve–justice for abused farmed animals.” 

Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation, says, “Let this be a message to factory farmers in California and elsewhere–you are not above the law.”

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives
and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For
more information, please visit

Over Killing (COK) is a nonprofit animal protection organization based
in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Since 1995, COK has worked to end
the abuse of animals in agriculture through undercover investigations,
public outreach, litigation, and other advocacy programs. COK is on the
web at

41 thoughts on “Animal Cruelty Lawsuit Settled: Santa Cruz Hatchery Closed, Owner Agrees Not to Work with Animals for Five Years

  1. Tara Ganguly says:

    Fantastic news! Great job, everyone.

  2. Gary DiNardo says:

    Good work.

  3. Deborah Wasko says:


    Then watch, with the initial investment in their business, ownership will either be transferred to another name (much the same as abortion mills transfer names, (nothing else will change long-term) when caught in hazardous health compromises for their patients) and business as usual will go on … another “investigation” … another lawsuit … another slap-on-the-wrist temporary setback … etc. etc. etc.

  4. Donna Burke says:

    Great news!!!!!

  5. Deborah Straker says:

    Thank you ALDF and suporters for ensuring that no other animal will suffer at the hands of Brian Collins and Cal-Cruz Hatchery. Excellent accomlishment! And congratulations to Whole Foods for their support in this efort.

  6. helen panayiotou says:

    Good news. How can people be so sick and cruel.

  7. Kathy says:

    Oh my gosh, I’m so happy I could cry.

  8. Joanne says:

    That is the best news.

  9. Tracy A says:

    So very happy to hear this! Nothing should endure cruelty, ever.

  10. Patty Kuhner says:

    Thank you for all of your hard work for the chickies.

  11. Eliza says:

    Thank you for what you do!!!

  12. Boe Devi says:

    Thank you ALDF for looking out for the animals.

  13. Gianna Macias says:

    The owner will not change in 5 years, he il a cruel person and will die cruel., He should NEVER AGAIN WORK WITH ANIMALS, as a matter of fact I would not trust him is children either.

  14. Janet Chernoff says:

    Praise God !!! What a joy to share this news !!!

  15. Jude Gagner says:

    Bravo for a great win for animals! I pray that the government will someday overturn any laws that make undercover videos illegal. Good people need to be vigilant about the treatment of animals and be able to prove inhumane treatment in a court of law. When our own government turns a blind eye to abuse and neglect, we the people need to be empowered to force changes. How better than undercover videos?!

  16. Pam Covington says:

    Farm animals are among the most abused animals on Earth. Thank you for helping them.

  17. G.Piekut says:

    It’s so good to see in print that “Our” (human) voices do count on behalf of animals! The undercover tapes are the best evidence these animals have with respect to how they are treated. Thanks to the investigators and the team who pursued this! Bravo!

  18. maegan says:

    This is absolutely wonderful news!! I must say I am somewhat ashamed because I am from Santa Cruz, Ca., but this is a giant step for the millions of animals suffering on factory farms. Way to go ALDF!! Keep up the amazing work.

  19. vanne hanisch-godoy says:

    Great! Keep up this good work!

  20. Karen Vaughan says:

    This is great! This was a nightmare with no end until now. You guys are angels!

  21. Karen Vaughan says:

    This is fantastic! This was a nightmare with no end until now. You guys are angels!

  22. Karen Vaughan says:

    This is fantastic! This was a nightmare with no end until now. You guys are angels!

  23. Lisa says:

    Thank you to all those responsible for stopping the cruelty. Your actions restore my faith in humanity.

  24. Joan Harrison says:

    What happened to the remaining chickens?

  25. Jennifer Hardacre says:

    We are all complicit in this kind of abuse; we demand as our right as much food as we want, of whatever kind we want, and as cheap as possible – these factory farms do that job for us. It is a sad truth that the more convenient and comfortable we make life for ourselves, the worse we make it for the animals and the environment.

  26. Susan says:

    Slowly but surely these horrific places and practices are being shut down. I thank God and ALDF for all the work put into these cases.

  27. Louise says:

    Great work everyone at COK and ALDF! This is the start of every one of them closing down. Thank you for all that you do to protect the voiceless.

  28. tom says:

    People with compassion are letting these sadistic monsters know that they`ll no longer be tolerated-we`re winning for the animals!

  29. jane casey says:

    Brian Collins needs to be banned for life from any involvement with animals and/or birds. He obviously believes he is justified in abusing those without a voice (but I am sure they voiced their pain and suffering) and destined to serve the meat industry. Jane Casey

  30. Thank you ALDF. I agree with words of caution about recidivism of Mr. Collins. No doubt in my mind he will go on to abuse other animals, people?, as soon as he can get away with it. I am for an animal abuser registry which ALDF has tried to implement.

  31. joan says:

    Five years go by very quickly and then? I am sure they have another money making project in mind as anyone capable of animal cruelty don’t just give up! There are ways and means to get around the law!

  32. Doris Muller says:

    One more small,crucial step for the animals, and one giant leap against the human weapons of mass destruction.

    It couldn’t be done without those who are in the trenches.

    And let’s not forget to give credit where credit is due: Thank you government for your complicity in letting all this horror abound, all in the name of food: the food of despair .

  33. Tim says:

    I agree with a comment above. We cannot drive the market to lower and lower prices. Understanding and demanding true cost means less suffering for animals.

  34. jean Polous says:

    Good Job. But I hope these people learned not to be so cruel to animals.

  35. Maureen says:

    This is wonderful news. Please give a sad thought for all the little chicks that suffered so terribly before ALDF and others took up their cause.

    No one connected to that hatchery should ever be allowed within a mile of any animal and especially chicks.

    Bless all those who stood up for these tiny little victims.

  36. Stacy says:

    Thank you ALDF for all you continuous effort for this chicks and ducklings and for your ongoing education efforts to the public and government about the treatment of animals on factory farms, but cruel human being such as these.

    It takes voices like you and people such as each one of us to educate our families, friends and co-workers each and every day to let them know what is really going on out there. Clearly, some people will never really care but we can slowly make a difference and this is is one way. Thank you again. This is just one LARGE group of animals that won’t suffer…now for the next challenge.

  37. Mari Rodriguez says:

    Yes! EXCELLENT news! It’s hard to believe this place was allowed to operate as long as it did, especially in Santa Cruz. Now, let’s get to work on the rest of the places like this in the country. The work never ends. Great job ALDF and COK!

  38. Janet Williamson says:

    Great job. Thank you for the work you do.

  39. nikki says:

    thank u aldf and to the gov for saving these babies from anymore horror! one question, why only 5 yrs? I think they should never be aloud to work with animals ever!

  40. Who enforces animal protection laws in this country?

    My impression of the U.S. is one of a Third World country when it comes to animal protection, it is outrageous.

    Non-Human Animals are sentient beings that deserve respect and ethical handling.

    The laws in this country are mediocre pieces of legislation and need a major overhaul.

    The enforcement seems even worse.

    A good idea might be for every group and individual who is intersted in a just world, to start taking on Corporate Filth America, like the National Pork Producers Council, Walmart, Tyson, etc. and expose them on TV , in front of their stores, and with lawsuits for what they are.

    It appears that Corporate Filth America has outrun every other animal rights organization in this country and now, just like Big Oil and Big Banking controls everyones’ lives !

  41. Patricia Folman says:

    They should be banned for life ! What’s with the 5 years?

    Why is everything in this country half-hearted when it comes to ANY kind of protection ?

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