Victory for the Animal Litigation Clinic and the scholars

PORTLAND, Ore .– (BUSINESS WIRE) – In a June 28, 2021 ruling by the US District Court for the Western District New York City, animal and environmental protection organizations (plaintiffs) were involved in two lawsuits against the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) over regulations in pig slaughterhouses.

The ruling is a first litigation win for the Animal Law Litigation Clinic (ALLC), a law school clinic established in 2019 by the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School to train law students in litigation skills while providing legal protection for farm animals advance animals.

The ALLC filed the separate lawsuits on behalf of a coalition of nonprofit animal and environmental organizations. The first lawsuit (Farm Sanctuary v. USDA, 6: 19-CV-06910), filed in December 2019, aims to prevent the USDA from allowing higher line speeds in the slaughterhouses with less supervision. The second lawsuit (Farm Sanctuary v. Perdue, 6: 20-CV-06081), filed in February 2020, denies the agency’s failure to prohibit the slaughter of all non-ambulatory or “shot” pigs. The USDA moved to dismiss both claims, claiming that there was no legal standing.

Law students Brittany Rowe ’21 and Ellie Nicoletta ’21 held separate oral arguments in federal court against the USDA’s dismissal earlier this year. Other clinic students were working behind the scenes on the cases.

Pamela Hart, Executive Director of the Center for Animal Law Studies, said, “When we started the Animal Law Litigation Clinic, our goal was to provide students with critical litigation skills while challenging the lack of legal protection for farm animals. This victory shows that we can achieve both. We are grateful that these cases are now getting down to business.

The 2019 lawsuit against the USDA challenges the agency’s decision to reduce oversight of pig slaughterhouses and lift limits on slaughtering speeds, thereby exposing pigs to more suffering and violating federal laws on humane slaughter, meat inspection and environmental protection.

In the 2020 lawsuit, the ALLC sued Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and the USDA for failing to protect pigs that are too sick or injured to walk in slaughterhouses, posing serious risks to animals and food safety.

Every year well over half a million pigs arrive at U.S. slaughterhouses that are too sick or injured to stand or walk. Severed pigs are at increased risk of carrying a variety of human-borne pathogens, including listeria, campylobacter, salmonella, swine flu, and Yersinia. They are also at increased risk of inhumane treatment, including excessive electric shocks, knocks, kicks, nudges, and tugs from workers trying to force them to move.

The verdict was passed by a judge on the US District Court for the Western District of New York.

The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) was founded in 2008 with the aim of training the next generation of animal rights attorneys and advancing animal welfare through law. With foresight and courageous willingness to take risks, CALS has since developed into a world-renowned epicenter for animal law, with the most comprehensive animal law curriculum ever offered. CALS offers the world’s first and only advanced legal degree in animal law, now available both in person and online. In addition, CALS is the only program to offer three specialized animal law clinics, including the Animal Law Litigation Clinic – the only law clinic in the world dedicated to advancing the protection of farm animals.

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