United States

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Titlesort descending Summary
Animal Law Index Volume 8
Animal Law Review Index
Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Otter The Animal Legal Defense Fund, and various other organizations and individuals, challenge Idaho Code § 18–7042 as unconstitutional. Section 18-7042 criminalizes undercover investigations of agricultural production facilities. ALDF alleges that § 18–7042 has both the purpose and effect of stifling public debate about modern agriculture and raises two substantive constitutional challenges against the State: (1) violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment; and (2) violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court first found that § 18–7042 is both content and viewpoint based, and thus, must survive the highest level of scrutiny. The Court held that the law does not survive strict scrutiny because it "would contravene strong First Amendment values to say the State has a compelling interest in affording these heavily regulated facilities extra protection from public scrutiny." Even if the interests in property and privacy of these industries is compelling, the law is not narrowly tailored as it restricts more speech than necessary and poses a "particularly serious threat to whistleblowers' free speech rights." Finally, the Court found that the law also violated the Equal Protection clause because the law was spurred by an improper animus toward animal welfare groups, furthers no legitimate or rational purpose, and classifies activities protected by the First Amendment based on content. ALDF's motion for summary judgment was granted.
Animal Legal Defense Fund Boston, Inc. v. Provimi Veal Corp.


District Court found that federal law preempts Massachusetts's consumer protection statute that requires retailers to inform consumers of relevant information, the disclosure of which may have influenced the buyer or prospective buyer not to enter into the transaction. The District Court also held that the Animal Legal Defense Fund could not enforce a cruelty to animals claim because it involves criminal statutes that only public prosecutors and legislatively-sanctioned groups may enforce.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. California Exposition and State Fairs Plaintiffs brought a taxpayer action against defendants based on allegations that defendants committed animal cruelty every summer by transporting pregnant pigs and housing them in farrowing crates at the state fair. One defendant, joined by the other, demurred, contending plaintiffs' complaint failed to state a cause of action for three distinct reasons, including that California's animal cruelty laws were not enforceable through a taxpayer action. The trial court agreed on all accounts, and sustained the demurrer without leave to amend. The Court of Appeals addressed only one of plaintiffs' claims, that contrary to the trial court's conclusion, plaintiffs could assert a taxpayer action to enjoin waste arising out of defendants' alleged violation of the animal cruelty laws. Like the trial court, the appeals court rejected plaintiffs' contention, concluding that they could not circumvent the prohibition recognized in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Mendes (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 136, which concluded that recognition of a private right of action under West's Ann.Cal.Penal Code § 597t would be inconsistent with the Legislature's entrustment of enforcement of anti-cruelty laws to local authorities and humane societies, by couching their claim as a taxpayer action. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert This case deals with the constitutionality of Utah's "ag gag" law, enacted in 2012. The law criminalizes lying to obtain access to an agricultural operation and the subsequent recording or filming once inside. According to statements made enactment, it is directed at undercover operations that investigate farm animal abuse. Plaintiffs assert that the law violates their First Amendment rights. On review of motions, the court first looked at whether the First Amendment applies to this type of "lying." Because a recent U.S. Supreme Court case makes lying that causes "cognizable legal harm" outside the protection of the First Amendment, the court examined the type of lying at issue in the Utah law. Ultimately, the court found that lying to gain access to these agricultural facilities does not in itself cause a legally cognizable harm. Thus, "absent an additional showing of harm, under either interpretation, at least some of the lies criminalized by the Act retain First Amendment protection." With regard to First Amendment protections for the act of recording once at an agricultural operation and whether a strict scrutiny standard applies, the court looked to other circuits that found the act of making speech (i.e., recording/filming) is protected. The State countered with the fact that such recording occurs on private property, but the court found the government cannot place criminal restrictions on speech simply because it occurs on private property. The court noted that the property owner can indeed remove the person from the property and sue for any damages resulting from the trespass, which is different than prosecution by the state to curtail speech. Finally, after finding that the act impinges protected speech, the court then analyzed whether it withstood a strict scrutiny review. The State proffered government interests that include concerns over worker protection and disease outbreak. However, the court noted nothing in the legislative history on these claims or any actual incidents that supported these asserted government interests. The court found the Act did not survive strict scrutiny as it was not narrowly tailored and instead was directed at the content of the speech (the act of recording a facility). The Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment was granted and the State's Motion for Summary Judgment was denied.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. LT Napa Partners LLC, Plaintiff and respondent Animal Legal Defense Fund filed an action against defendants and appellants LT Napa Partners LLC and Kenneth Frank for unfair competition, alleging defendants sold foie gras in their Napa restaurant in violation of California law. Defendants moved to strike plaintiff's claim pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute, arguing it was exercising its free speech rights by protesting the law. Defendants appealed the trial court's denial of the motion. The appeals court affirmed the lower court's decision because the ALDF demonstrated probability of prevailing on the claim that it had standing under Unfair Competition Law (UCL); showed basis for liability against chef; and showed probability of prevailing on its claim that owner and chef unlawfully sold foie gras.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Mendes


Appellants ALDF asserted causes of action for violation of Penal Code section 597t for confining calves without an “adequate exercise area,” and for commission of unfair business practices under Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq. In affirming the lower court's decision to dismiss the action, this court held that there is no private cause of action pursuant to Penal Code section 597t under the present circumstances, and none of the appellants have shown an ability to allege any facts of economic injury.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter In a ‘hold your tongue and challenge now’ First Amendment challenge to an Idaho statute that criminalizes undercover investigations and videography at “agricultural production facilities,” the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as various other organizations and individuals, (collectively, “ALDF”), brought suit. The State defendants, Governor Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, moved to dismiss the ALDF's claims. The claims against the Governor were dismissed under 11th Amendment immunity because the ALDF failed to explain the requisite connection between the Governor and enforcement of section 18–7024. The court also found that since the ALDF failed to allege a concrete plan to violate subsection (e), it lacked standing to challenge section 18–7042(1)(e) and the claim in regards to that provision was therefore dismissed. However, the ALDF’s First Amendment, bare animus Equal Protection, and preemption claims survived the motion to dismiss.

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