Foie Gras is not Free-Speech – Court Slaps Down California Restaurant in Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Lawsuit

Posted on July 3, 2013

For immediate release:

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

ducks-article-image-x2NAPA, Calif. — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) won a major battle as part of its lawsuit against Napa-based La Toque restaurant for violating the state ban on selling and distributing force-fed foie gras products. In a ruling today by the Napa County Superior Court, the Sonoma County-based ALDF successfully defeated La Toque’s anti- SLAPP (a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion which aimed to allow their continued illegal sale of force-fed foie gras products as a “protest” protected by the freedom of speech. The court denied La Toque’s motion and agreed that illegally selling foie gras is not protected by the freedom of speech.

Despite the state ban, ALDF’s undercover investigations have revealed that La Toque routinely sells foie gras, the enlarged livers of force-fed birds, in clear violation of California Health and Safety Code § 25982. The lawsuit alleges that La Toque aims to circumvent the law by calling its actual sales of foie gras “gifts.” Despite La Toque’s mincing of words, the court found that serving foie gras to paying customers is a sale under the law. The court denied La Toque’s claims and reaffirmed the merits of ALDF’s case against La Toque. In her judgment, the Honorable Diane Price wrote that these transactions “are sales,” agreed ALDF has proven La Toque’s “ongoing violations” and suffered injury by expending valuable resources to fight La Toque’s efforts to block investigations, and denied the defendants’ attorney’s fees.

“Today’s decision shows that La Toque’s violation of health and consumer protection laws, and their attempt to block investigations of their own illegal activities by couching their enormous profits as free speech, is ridiculous and without legal merit,” said Stephen Wells, ALDF’s executive director. “Such arrogance directly causes the suffering of hundreds of thousands of birds and unfairly contorts California’s marketplace with illegal and cruel products.”

Copies of the lawsuit are available by request.

16 thoughts on “Foie Gras is not Free-Speech – Court Slaps Down California Restaurant in Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Lawsuit

  1. Linda says:

    Shut them down, and anyone who makes money for this disgusting needless suffering of these innocent animals.

    1. Lisa says:

      I agree! Shut them down. Break the law, lose your business license!!!

    2. Filipa says:

      I absolutely agree!

  2. laura brown says:

    This practise is outrageous and needs to be stopped. Animals don’t need to suffer for man’s benefit

  3. voices4animals says: — or a complaint to Michelin could always be in order.

    1. betty Jeane Murphy says:

      Like the comment about reporting to MICHELIN!!!!!!!!
      THANKS ALDF…….So glad you are always out there!!!!!!!

  4. Mike Sage says:

    Hi, ALDF. I read your great article and I see that you will provide a copy of the lawsuit upon request (the foie gras lawsuit against the La Toque restaurant). Please may I have a copy? Thanks!

    — Mike

  5. thankyouALDF says:

    Well done. So glad for the ALDF’s good work.

    I think there’s a certain donut shop in the south San Francisco Bay Area that might merit some attention from the ADLF . . .

  6. Christa Babst says:

    I don’t understand why the authorities don’t close them down since they are in violation of the law!

  7. Robert Joros says:

    This is disgusting. These animals have a heart lungs heart liver and feel pain as we do. I get that we are meat eaters. But we should be AS FAST AND AS HUMANE AS POSSIBLE DURING ALL PROCESS OF SLAUGHTER. MY GOD. I do not eat meat anymore but hope we am evolve as a species……because we are acting like cavemen in a time where we can make this as painless as possible. Please do so…..

  8. marilyn B. says:

    I agree with Christa Babst

  9. Virginia Velasco says:

    Fois gras lovers are not touched by the fact that forced feeding birds means torture to animals. But all the fat in the foi gras will eventually deposit in their arteries causing them cardiac serious problems. This might get their attention.

  10. susan rudnicki says:

    I am hearing that “Hots” restaurant in Hermosa Beach is also a violator, serving foie gras. I wonder if ALDF knows of them?

  11. Susan Pateracki says:

    Thanks to the ALDF. This is good. I didnt trust California even though it is banned here. We need your eyes and help. The Mega Groups moved onto Facebook with anger and pets are being tortured and killed now. People set fire to their pets and other evil things. These cooking dogs pictures, I dont know if that is real or not. All I know is since they moved in, animal torture is worse than when I started it on Facebook.

  12. Guys, just provide a link to the lawsuit. Don’t force people into asking.

    You should support the public dissemination of this information, not put it behind a wall.

    Good you one, but forcing a person to have to _ask_ for the court documents is miserly. And irritating.

    Take a lesson from

  13. Make that won, not one.

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