Animal Advocates Fight Back Against Slaughterhouse’s Attempt to Silence Critics
Anti-SLAPP motion alleges Manning Beef is stifling Los Angeles Cow Save’s right to free speech
Los Angeles, CA – The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, filed a motion today to dismiss Manning Beef’s meritless lawsuit against Los Angeles Cow Save, a group that organizes vigils for the animals slaughtered at Manning Beef.
In its lawsuit, Manning Beef asserts that Los Angeles Cow Save is trespassing by holding vigils on the road in front of its Pico Rivera slaughterhouse. The purpose of these vigils is to bear witness to the suffering of animals headed to slaughter and raise public awareness about cruelty to farmed animals.
Today’s motion to dismiss was filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Law Offices of Matthew Strugar, and attorney Ryan Gordon, in Los Angeles Superior Court under the California “anti-SLAPP” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute. The purposes of this statute is to empower activists to dismiss lawsuits that punish them for speaking out on issues of public concern.
“Manning Beef’s lawsuit is a transparent effort to silence advocates and curtail their right to freedom of speech,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Los Angeles Cow Save has a right to make public what this slaughterhouse wants to keep hidden from public view. This lawsuit is a textbook example of why California has an anti-SLAPP statute.”
The anti-SLAPP motion argues that the lawsuit is meritless because Los Angeles Cow Save’s vigils are a protected form of free speech and are not conducted on private property, despite Manning Beef’s claims. The City of Pico Rivera treats Manning Road, the road in front of the slaughterhouse, as a public road. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has refused to disperse Los Angeles Cow Save protestors during their vigils, despite Manning Beef’s requests.
Attempts to stifle animal advocates’ exercise of free speech are not isolated to Manning Beef. The Animal Legal Defense Fund won a major anti-SLAPP victory in February after a Texas judge dismissed a lawsuit claiming the Animal Legal Defense Fund defamed Landry’s Inc. and the Downtown Aquarium, after publicly commenting on the inhumane living conditions of four tigers held at the restaurant and aquarium in Houston.
Other Animal Save groups, most famously Toronto Pig Save in Canada, have also been targeted for their activism.
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