Appellate panel tosses NJSPCA lawsuit against testing lab
Appellate panel tosses NJSPCA lawsuit against testing labNEWARK, N.J. - A state appellate court on Wednesday tossed the remainder of a lawsuit against a laboratory that tests products on animals brought by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals based on videotapes from undercover activists.
The 3-0 ruling by the appellate panel affirmed a trial court ruling that dismissed the five remaining counts of a lawsuit filed against Huntingdon Life Sciences Inc.
Those counts charged that negligence by Huntingdon and its workers caused unnecessary pain and suffering to the animals. The lawsuit asked a judge to order Huntingdon to improve its hiring and training and appoint an NJSPCA representative to monitor compliance. It also sought restitution of profits derived from animal testing found to be improper.The appellate panel, however, said there is no basis for restitution, because the NJSPCA did not lose money when Huntingdon profited. It also ruled that injunctions would not be appropriate for acts that happened about a decade earlier.
The NJSPCA did not challenge some of the earlier rulings by a trial judge, who found that the organization had no standing to sue the company and that Huntingdon had no obligations to the NJSPCA.
The 45 other counts in the lawsuit, charging specific acts of animal cruelty, had already been voluntarily dropped by the NJSPCA.
NJSPCA spokesman Matt Stanton said the group would not appeal, saying it considered the lawsuit a "test case."
"We took this action to make a point ... using animals for the purposes of testing oftentime constitutes animal cruelty. Did we win the appeal? No. Did we make our point and make HLS think twice about how they treat animals? We sure hope we did," Stanton said.
Messages for Huntingdon's spokesman and the company's lawyer were were not immediately returned.
The videos were made in 1996 and 1997 by members of the Philadelphia-based Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.
Six members of the group are now serving federal prison terms after they and the group itself were convicted in March 2006 of using a Web site to incite threats, harassment and vandalism against Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Huntingdon Life Sciences, whose parent company is based in England, has a lab in Somerset County that tests drugs and household products on animals.
On the Net:
Court ruling: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a0487-06.pdf
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