Thursday, November 1, 2007

AR idiocy in the news......

The Animal Liberation Front ( ALF ) , a domestic terrorist organization, has claimed responsibility for an attack on the home of Dr. Edythe London, a professor and researcher at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. The vandals flooded Prof. London's home with a garden hose, doing $20,000-$40,000 worth of damage. In a rather courageous act, Prof. London wrote a response to the attack that has run in today's Los Angeles Times. In this response, Professor London outlines the work she is doing and why animal use is important to it. Professor London's calm, well-reasoned response to the ALF terrorists is, IMHO, nothing short of awesome. Prof. London has done a tremendous service to the research community here, because her response shows scientists to be the reasoned, rational people they are, while making the ALF thugs look like exactly what they are: cracked lunatics who think they have a right to terrorize others and commit criminal acts in the name of their ideology. Big time kudos to Professor London for putting out this courageous response to the ALF dirtbags.

In another story, a New Jersey appellate court has dismissed a lawsuit against Huntington Life Sciences ( HLS ), a pharmaceutical testing firm, by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( NJSPCA ) . NJSPCA sued Huntington for allegedly causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals, and had sought restitution from the company. The court rightly dismissed the case, because HLS has no legal obligations to NJSPCA, and thus there is no grounds for a claim of restitution. Seems to me like a frivolous lawsuit in which an animal advocacy group was trying to use the legal system as way to steal money from a legitimate business that it happens to dislike. I'm certainly no law expert, but I can't help but wonder, and hope, that perhaps this case will set a precedent in cutting off AR groups and their lawyers that hope use litigation "on behalf of animals" in the future as part of their strategy.


Anonymous said...

It's a pity that Prof. London didn't mention in her piece that most of her work involves human subjects, just look up London ED on PubMed. She's done a lot of work using PET imaging to study the brains of addicts and how they respond to drugs and different treatment regimes. Some of her work also looks ar neurological diseases such as Parkinson's and the effects of aging on the brain.

It's great that she's spoken out, but it would be even better if her colleagues and students made a public show of solidarity with her.


Anonymous said...

I’m not a legal expert either, however, my understanding is that there are certain prerequisites for people and animal protection organisations to meet in order to be granted legal standing – that is, the ability to bring to court or litigate animal cruelty/welfare issues on behalf of the animal that you allege to have been mistreated.
The main qualification is that regardless of what interest one may have as a private individual or as a welfare org, you can’t litigate unless you, yourself (not the animal) have suffered an injury in fact by the one who you say allegedly harms the animal. Your injury may be economic, aesthetic, environmental, informational, or recreational interests. But the harm must be yours, and it must be an invasion of a legally-protected interest that is concrete and particularized, and actual or imminent. Another is that there must be a causal relationship between your injury and the defendant’s conduct. Also, winning the suit must redress your injury.
There are other conditions, like the “zone of interests” rule, which is when, for example, the govt violates a statute, you must show that you or animal rights/welfare advocate were the kind of person whom the legislature was thinking about protecting when it passed the statute. Another condition for legal standing for an animal protection organisation is that they can sue only about an issue germane to their organisational goals.

But, in re the prerequisite that the plaintiff (individual, or an animal welfare organization’s board/members, e.g.) must have suffered an injury in fact. I couldn’t understand why the NJ SPCA tried to collect HLS earnings from testing. Maybe, because they reckoned that if the video could be shown that the animals were being unnecessarily caused pain and suffering, the testing lab was profiting from such animal mistreatment. But, since HLS is not in any way obligated to NJ SPCA and since HLS testing lab did not cause the NJ SPCA to suffer any economic losses, the court would rule that there was no basis for restitution.

The NJ SPCA said it considered the lawsuit a “test” case (Matt Stanton, NJ SPCA spokesperson) “to see if the strategy worked.” What strategy is that? Stanton stated “We took this action to make a point … using animals for the purposes of testing oftentime constitutes animal cruelty.” Yet, there were “45 counts in the lawsuit, charging specific acts of animal cruelty” (22 counts of abuse, 18 counts of unnecessary cruelty, and 5 counts of deprivation of necessary sustenance) that the NJ SPCA voluntarily dropped.

Also, these “undercover” videotapes were made in 1996-7 by PeTA undercover operative, Michelle Rokke (I’ve read that the videos were made by the Philadelphia-based SHAC, but SHAC USA didn’t come into being until spring 2000, and SHAC UK Nov 1999) and the NJ SPCA filed suit not until Jan 2006. Why so long? Also, why didn’t the SPCA, which is usually an animal welfare org, have the USDA investigate the alleged animal welfare violations? It’s no wonder that the NJ SPCA has been accused of taking on the animal rights cause, particularly that of PeTA and SHAC. Actually, I wondered why PeTA didn’t sue instead. They did, in 1998, file a formal complaint against HLS East Millstone facility to the USDA, which prompted a USDA investigation. The USDA did not find the kind of abuses PeTA alleged against HLS. Interestingly, too, HLS countersued PeTA, claiming that the materials were obtained illegally and that PeTA had violated the EEA and AEPA. Then, in Dec 1997, a mutual settlement was reached which included that PeTA would turn over all records taken from HLS and for 5 years (that would be 2002) cease trying to infiltrate HLS property, plus a gag order against PeTA from discussing the case in public.


Carol W Reeves