Tag Archives: animal rights

Update on Elephant Habeas Corpus Case

by John M. Simpson.

We recently reported on a case in which an animal rights group, the Nonhuman Rights Project,  sought habeas corpus relief for three Asian elephants maintained in a zoo in Connecticut.  The Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s judgment and ruled that the plaintiff had no standing  because the elephants themselves had no standing. Continue reading Update on Elephant Habeas Corpus Case

UK Advertising Standards Authority Bans PETA Ad As “Misleading” and Lacking Substantiation

by John M. Simpson.

On September 4, 2019 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which describes itself as “the UK’s independent advertising regulator,” upheld a challenge to an advertisement  that had been displayed for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on the side of buses in February 2019.  As the authority described it, the ad “included the text ‘Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes.  Wool is just as cruel as fur.  GO WOOL-FREE THIS WINTER PeTA.’  Beside the text was an image of a woman with the neck of her jumper pulled over her face.”   Ten complainants challenged whether the claim “wool is just as cruel as fur” was misleading and could be substantiated.  ASA upheld the challenge and ruled that the ad “must not appear in its current form” and “told PETA not to use the claim ‘wool is just as cruel as fur’ in [the] future.”  Continue reading UK Advertising Standards Authority Bans PETA Ad As “Misleading” and Lacking Substantiation

Goodbye Big Food, Hello Lawsuit: Animal Rights Group Files Case Over Dairy Product Marketing

By:  Michelle C. Pardo

Known for its “Dairy Done Right” marketing campaign, Tillamook County Creamery Association (“Tillamook”), which produces dairy products like cheese, yogurt, ice cream and butter, is the latest target of a consumer fraud lawsuit filed this week in Oregon state court (Multnomah County). Animal rights group Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is co-counsel to four Oregon residents and a class of similarly situated consumers who claim Tillamook uses deceptive representations when advertising and marketing its dairy products, which is likely to confuse or mislead customers. Continue reading Goodbye Big Food, Hello Lawsuit: Animal Rights Group Files Case Over Dairy Product Marketing

Connecticut Appellate Court Denies Habeas Relief for Elephants

by John M.  Simpson.

On August 20, 2019, a panel of the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Appellate Court officially released a decision affirming the dismissal of an action that had been brought seeking habeas corpus relief for three elephants maintained at a zoo in Goshen, Connecticut.  Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. R. W. Commerford and Sons, Inc., No. AC 41464 (Conn. App.  Aug. 20, 2019).  The petitioner Nonhuman Rights Project sought to represent the elephants as their “next friend” seeking to vindicate what was described as the animals’ “common-law right to bodily liberty.”  The lower court dismissed the case on the grounds that petitioner lacked standing and, alternatively, that the petition was “wholly frivolous.”  Continue reading Connecticut Appellate Court Denies Habeas Relief for Elephants

9th Circuit Rejects Animal Rights Organization’s Claim That a Bengal Tiger is an “Individual” Under FOIA

by John M. Simpson.

Yesterday, in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, et al., ___ F.3d ___, No. 18-16327 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2019), the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment of the Northern District Court of California holding that a Bengal tiger is not an “individual” within the meaning of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).   The case had been brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) denied ALDF’s request for expedited treatment of its FOIA request for records concerning an inspection request regarding a tiger named “Tony.”     Continue reading 9th Circuit Rejects Animal Rights Organization’s Claim That a Bengal Tiger is an “Individual” Under FOIA

Animal Activist Leader Steps Down In Advance of Multiple Criminal Trials

by Michelle C. Pardo

The leader and co-founder of West-coast based animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), Wayne Hsiung, announced yesterday that he will be stepping down from his leadership position at DxE and explained to his followers “why that’s a good thing.”  DxE had become known for its “open rescues” — essentially stealing farm animals in order to “liberate” them — and mass arrests of the activist participants.  In these raids, activists openly enter farms, usually at night, and “rescue” animals.  They often videotape the incident and release it to various media forums.  DxE’s “Organizer’s Handbook” states that the activists involved do not hide their identities so as to avoid being compared to “criminals, vandals and terrorists.”  DxE has also favored storming into restaurants and yelling at patrons about eating meat and entering grocery stores and climbing into food cases to protest.   One particular disgusting protest involved a DxE activist covering herself in feces at a San Francisco grocery store to protest that eggs come from laying hens that allegedly sit in their own waste.   Many of DxE’s members have boldly embraced these extremist techniques even if they involve criminal activity, such as trespassing or stealing.  Former leader Hsiung has asked fellow activists before such raids if they are “comfortable” with the possibility of doing jail time.

Hsiung may soon be speaking to his followers from prison.  As the result of multiple raids on farms in North Carolina, Utah, and California, Hsiung, along with other activists, was arrested and charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors.  Hsiung has stated that he faces from 85 to 100 years in prison for these criminal activities.  Various media reports have indicated that trials in these jurisdictions will take place before the end of 2019.  We will be sure to update you about the verdicts in those cases.

Several years ago, DxE was plagued with accusations of racist, sexist and homophobic behavior among activists and were roundly criticized for not policing sexual harassment within the organization.  One former member stated that a sexual abuser remained in a leadership position in DxE and the victim was pressured into staying silent about her concerns and accepting apologies.

In various social media posts, Hsiung stated that he has stepped down “as felony trials approach” “to make sure we continue to grow.”  Hsiung urged his supporters that DxE “has no single ‘head'” and that new leadership is ready to step up and lead the organization.  In his August 7, 2019 blog post, regarding DxE members going to prison, Hsiung proclaimed “Bring it on! We’ve got 10 more ready to step up.”  Hsiung has since turned the leadership reins over to DxE member Almira Tanner.  While Hsiung will not maintain any leadership position, he stated that he will remain a “rank-and-file organizer” and even suggested that he may volunteer for a political campaign “and try to inject animal rights into the 2020 race.”  If that happens, query whether it will be executed better than the DxE disruption at Senator Kamala Harris’s speech on June 1, 2019 — where a DxE activist rushed the stage and grabbed the microphone from the Democratic senator.  In the wake of bad press on this disruption, former leader Hsiung penned an apology note to Harris (posted on DxE’s website) entitled “I Messed Up.  So did DxE.”  https://www.directactioneverywhere.com/theliberationist/2019/6/18/i-messed-up-so-did-dxe.  Whether DxE’s “mistake” turned into “an important learning experience” is yet to be seen.





Animal Activist Group Loses “Right to Wilderness” Lawsuit

by Michelle C. Pardo

If you thought animal and environmental activists had already pushed the envelope far enough in the world of federal court litigation, think again.

This week, an Oregon federal judge ruled that a group of plaintiffs – made up of animal and environmental activist organizations and individuals – do not have a constitutional “right to wilderness” and dismissed with prejudice their lawsuit which sought to force the federal government to cease policies that contributed to climate change that, in turn, harmed plaintiffs’ enjoyment of nature and wildlife.   ALDF et al. v. United States, (6:18-cv-01860-MC)(D. Oregon). Continue reading Animal Activist Group Loses “Right to Wilderness” Lawsuit

Baltimore Seafood Restaurant Continues to Needle PETA

by John M. Simpson.

We have reported previously (here and here) on an ongoing back and forth between animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, a seafood restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland.  PETA started it with a billboard advertisement in which a Maryland crab proclaimed “I’m ME, not MEAT.  See the individual.  Go Vegan.”  Jimmy’s responded with its own billboard asserting:  “SteaMEed crabs.  Here to stay.  Get Famous.”  Jimmy’s also trolled PETA on Twitter with humorous effect with hashtags like “#SteamThemAll.”  This tactic reportedly had the effect of boosting Jimmy’s sales. Continue reading Baltimore Seafood Restaurant Continues to Needle PETA

Maine’s Top Court Rules Harvesting Seaweed Is Not “Fishing”

by John M. Simpson.

Animal rights enthusiasts have a knack for pushing the envelope in their various arguments that legal rights should be recognized for a wide variety of animal species.  For example, it was reported recently that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) tweeted in connection with World Oceans Day that “Oysters and other bivalves are animals who deserve our consideration.”  Against this backdrop, a recent decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine raised an interesting issue.  Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd., 206 A.3d 283 (Me. 2019), presented the question whether “rockweed,” a species of seaweed in Maine that grows in the intertidal zone, is owned by the adjoining upland property owner who owns the intertidal soil in fee simple or is held in trust by the state through the jus publicum for the public to harvest. Continue reading Maine’s Top Court Rules Harvesting Seaweed Is Not “Fishing”

Animals and Politics: Traveling Exotic Animal Ban Reintroduced

by Michelle C. Pardo

On May 21, 2019 Representatives Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), a bill that would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the use of exotic and wild animals, including lions, tigers and elephants, in traveling performances.  The bill had previously been introduced in 2017. Continue reading Animals and Politics: Traveling Exotic Animal Ban Reintroduced