PETA Wins $140,000 in Attorneys’ Fees in Suit Against Stony Brook After Demanding Records on Rabbit Experiments

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After a years-long legal battle against the State University of New York–Stony Brook (Stony Brook) over its apparent attempt to conceal information about cruel experiments on rabbits, PETA has finally obtained the records it requested and a Suffolk County Supreme Court has ordered the university to pay up to $140,000 in attorneys’ fees to PETA.

What Happens Behind Closed Doors in Stony Brook Laboratories

From 2015 to 2018, Stony Brook used at least 841 animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs, and pigs, in experiments. This number includes only animals protected by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which explicitly excludes rats, mice, and birds bred for use in experiments as well as reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates, so these animals don’t have to be included in the school’s annual report—which means that Stony Brook likely used many other animals in useless tests.

PETA’s Years-Long Lawsuit Against Stony Brook

This win follows PETA’s 2016 probe into Dr. Craig Evinger’s experiments on the nictitating membranes of rabbits at Stony Brook.

white rabbit in front of a dark grey background
A nictitating membrane, often called a “third eyelid,” is a transparent or translucent eyelid that rabbits can draw across the eye for protection and to moisten it while maintaining vision.

After we got word that U.S. Department of Agriculture officials had slapped the university with four AWA violations—one because of the death of a rabbit who had become wedged between the grill openings of a cage—we served Stony Brook with public records requests seeking information about the violations. Another violation was for failing to properly monitor rabbits during painful procedures in order to ensure that the animals had been properly anesthetized.

Stony Brook apparently attempted to remain tight-lipped about the details of its experiments on rabbits. In response to our public records requests, the school produced 451 pages of heavily redacted records, including 338 pages of redacted veterinary care and medical records and 113 pages of extensively redacted research protocols.

To force Stony Brook to comply with New York’s public records laws, PETA filed suit against Stony Brook, demanding that the university provide unredacted versions of its records. Our efforts to obtain these records were met with fierce opposition from the school. The Suffolk County Supreme Court noted that our reasonable requests had been met with “resistance every step of the way.”

But in 2023, after years of litigation and ongoing negotiation, PETA prevailed and Stony Brook finally agreed to provide revised copies of the requested records eliminating nearly all redactions.

Learn More About Cruelty to Animals in University Laboratories

PETA’s victory against Stony Brook should be a lesson to universities across the nation that they cannot hide the suffering that occurs in their laboratories. Cruel and pointless tests on animals are rampant on campuses across the U.S.—but you can help PETA expose the suffering occurring behind closed laboratory doors.

Visit our “Campus Cruelty Report” page to see a comprehensive list of universities that conduct experiments on animals, animal welfare violations, government funding, and more:

Take Action for Animals Suffering in Laboratories

Every year, billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are wasted on experiments that involve tormenting and killing countless mice, monkeys, and other sentient beings. These failed experiments aren’t conducted only at universities across the country—they occur in laboratories around the world, funded by U.S. taxpayers. One way that you can help PETA end experiments on animals everywhere is by supporting the Cease Animal Research Grants Overseas (CARGO) Act—a new landmark bill aimed at curbing out-of-control waste of taxpayer funds on foreign animal experiments. Please take action today:

Speak up for animals tormented at another university:

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