Court Orders USDA to Release Animal Welfare Act Violation Records

Following a seven year legal battle and a highly unusual trial in a Freedom of Information Act case, the U.S. District Court for D.C. has ruled resoundingly in our favor in a case brought on behalf of In Defense of Animals to obtain USDA investigatory records regarding Huntingdon Life Sciences (“HLS”), a controversial research lab that USDA charged with multiple, serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act but then let off the hook with only token sanctions. The court rejected the USDA’s and HLS’s argument that the records bearing on USDA’s investigation could be withheld as “confidential commercial” information under Exemption 4 of the FOIA, and instead ordered all of the documents at issue to be disclosed within 60 days. The ruling in In Defense of Animals v. USDA, Civ. No. 02-557 (RWR), is attached.