Demanding Public Records Relating to Invasive Cat Experiments

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit to compel the disclosure of public records regarding invasive experiments on cats and kittens conducted by the State University of New York College of Optometry.

Updated

November 21, 2019

Work Type

Litigation

Status

Victory

SUNY turns over documents and ends experiments on cats

Next Step

Settlement reached November 21, 2019

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit to compel the disclosure of public records regarding invasive experiments on cats and kittens conducted by the State University of New York College of Optometry (SUNY). The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research & Experimentation (CAARE), is in response to SUNY’s refusal to release the records after receiving a request under the New York Freedom of Information Law.

Since 2002, SUNY has experimented on the brains of cats using taxpayer dollars. The stated purpose of the experiments, which began at Rockefeller University in 1985, is to understand the part of the feline brain controlling vision. However, after three decades of invasive and painful experiments on cats, the research has not produced any useful information applicable to human vision disorders.

Under New York’s Freedom of Information Law — a state law similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act, which favors government transparency — the public has a legal right to know about the experiments being performed, and the SUNY College of Optometry should and must release the records.

Who is being sued, why, and under what law? The State University of New York College of Optometry for violating the New York Freedom of Information Law

What court is the lawsuit filed in? New York State Supreme Court (the lowest New York state court)

Why this case is important: The SUNY College of Optometry has refused to release the public records regarding its cat experiments, claiming that releasing the information to an animal protection organization such as CAARE would endanger the safety of researchers and that the research qualifies as a trade secret. But the school’s efforts to keep the public in the dark violates the New York Freedom of Information Law. Under this law, the public has a legal right to know about the taxpayer-funded experiments being performed on cats and kittens.

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