Exposing the Living Conditions of Egg-laying Hens
Matthew Hamity v California Department of Food and Agriculture
The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the the California Department of Food and Agriculture for violating the California Public Records Act by unlawfully withholding records regarding living conditions of egg-laying hens in factory farms.
In March 2017, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for violating the California Public Records Act by unlawfully withholding records regarding living conditions of egg-laying hens in factory farms.
We requested these records in August 2016 in order to determine factory egg farms’ compliance with the state Shell Egg Food Safety regulations and California’s California's Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, also known as Proposition 2 — a farm animal protection law that California citizens voted for overwhelmingly in 2008, mandating egg-laying hens be given enough space to spread their wings without touching either side of the enclosure or other hens.
In response to our initial request, the CDFA produced some records but redacted cage floor dimensions on the grounds that they constitute trade secrets. The Animal Legal Defense Fund argued in our lawsuit that CDFA’s claim of trade secrets was inappropriate.
We also argued that the release of these records was in the public interest since in addition to the California Public Records Act’s policy in favor of transparency, Californians have a compelling interest in ensuring the law is enforced, and that little information is currently available regarding egg producers’ compliance with Proposition 2.
In a victory for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the CDFA backed down on its unfounded trade secret claim, disclosed the unredacted records in full, and paid the Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney’s fees.
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