PETA Sues to Expose UConn Experimenters Who Violated Animal Welfare Laws and Policies

Group Argues That University Is Unlawfully Hiding Names of Taxpayer-Funded Experimenters Who Abused Animals

For Immediate Release:
December 30, 2013

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

New Britain, Conn. —

PETA filed a lawsuit on Thursday in the Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of New Britain, to appeal a November 2013 decision by the state’s Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) allowing the University of Connecticut (UConn) Health Center (UCHC) to withhold federal grant numbers and the names of taxpayer-funded UCHC animal experimenters who violated federal policies and laws.

In its lawsuit, PETA argues that UCHC and the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services (DAS) failed to provide an adequate justification for withholding the information, as required by law, and that the FOIC provided the wrong legal standard in reaching its decision, thereby invalidating it.

“The public has a right to know when federal rules regarding the humane treatment of animals in taxpayer-funded laboratories are violated and who is responsible,” says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. “UConn has a long history of violating federal animal-protection laws and policies, and the university is apparently now pulling out all the stops to insulate itself and its faculty from much-deserved public scrutiny.”

PETA’s lawsuit explains that UCHC’s main claim that disclosing the information would place persons or property at risk is unfounded given that the identities of experimenters using animals are already published on UCHC and federal websites and that DAS admitted under oath that there’s no evidence that disclosing information about violations would present any risk to experimenters.

According to the redacted documents at issue, more than 20 violations of federal policies and laws governing experiments on animals were documented at UCHC from 2009 to 2012. Among them were conducting unapproved procedures on mice and rabbits—resulting in some animals’ deaths—and failing to provide animals with proper pain relief after surgery. Some of the deviations were so serious that projects were suspended, experimenters’ animal-use privileges were revoked, UCHC was fined, and charges to federal grants were disallowed.

Last year, UCHC was fined more than $12,000 for 10 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) in its laboratories—several of the citations were the result of a PETA complaint.. In 2007, UCHC was fined $5,500 for AWA violations in a now-defunct monkey laboratory and ordered to return $65,000 in federal funding after an exposé by a current PETA staffer. In 2001, UConn’s main campus paid a record $129,000 fine for 99 AWA violations.

A copy of the lawsuit filed Thursday is available upon request.


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