La Toque Still in Hot Water as Court Upholds California Foie Gras BanPosted on September 4, 2013
Ninth Circuit Ruling Means Lawsuit Proceeds against Napa Restaurant for Violating Ban on Cruelly-Produced Foie Gras
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
SAN FRANCISCO — The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) fight against the foie gras industry got a boost last Friday, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the U.S. District Court of Central California denying an industry request for a preliminary injunction. That injunction would have temporarily lifted the California ban on selling force-fed foie gras and substantially delayed ALDF’s ongoing case against Napa-based La Toque restaurant for illegally selling foie gras. In January 2012, ALDF, along with animal protection groups Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Marin Humane Society, filed an amicus brief supporting the state ban against the lawsuit filed by industry groups, including the Canadian foie gras producers Association Des Eleveurs de Canards et D’Oies Du Quebec, New York-based Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and California-based HOTS Restaurant Group, Inc. Judge Stephen V. Wilson’s ruling that California’s ban is neither vague nor in violation of the interstate commerce clause—as frequently claimed by the foie gras industry—means the ban will remain in effect while litigation continues. The Ninth Circuit ruling gives the green light to nonprofits and government agencies to commit resources to enforce the state ban.
Also on Friday, La Toque appealed ALDF’s July 2013 victory over La Toque’s motion to allow the restaurant’s illegal sale of force-fed foie gras products as “freedom of speech.” In that court victory, Napa County Superior Court had agreed with ALDF that illegally selling foie gras is not free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution. The upcoming appeal will mark the first time a California appellate court will hear a case on the foie gras ban.
“This ruling serves up a major blow to a foie gras industry that wants to dish out animal cruelty at gourmet prices, despite a state-wide ban,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “It should be clear now to scofflaws and those promoting animal abuse—who think they are above the law—that the courts take the law seriously.”
Copies of the amicus brief are available upon request.