Stony Brook University Ordered to Pay PETA $140K for Violating Public Records Laws

For Immediate Release:
August 11, 2023

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Stony Brook, N.Y.

In a win for PETA regarding accountability and transparency, the Suffolk County Supreme Court just ordered Stony Brook University (SBU) to pay PETA $140,000 in legal fees after the school failed to comply with New York public records laws. PETA served its public records request in 2016 after federal inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited SBU for the death of a rabbit and for breaching protocol during Dr. Craig Evinger’s experiments on rabbits’ eyes.

“This victory sends a strong message that institutions like SBU can’t get away with concealing public records to evade scrutiny of controversial tests on animals,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “SBU will now have to pay the price for trying to hide its painful experiments on the delicate membranes of rabbits’ eyes from PETA and the public.”

On July 6, 2016, the USDA cited SBU for four violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act regarding experimenters’ removal of rabbits’ nictitating membranes—a translucent third eyelid that some animals have to help protect and moisten their eyes. SBU was cited for failing to consider alternatives to the “painful procedure,” for removing a rabbit’s nictitating membrane without proper approval, for failing to monitor the health and well-being of rabbits during the procedure, and for the death of a rabbit who became wedged between the grill openings of a cage.

In response to PETA’s records request, SBU produced 451 pages of heavily redacted documents, including 338 pages of redacted veterinary care and medical records. Only after years of litigation did SBU finally agree to provide revised copies of the requested records that eliminated nearly all redactions. In awarding PETA its legal fees, the court found that PETA “was reasonable in its requests” and had attempted to obtain the records without litigation but “was met with resistance every step of the way and was compelled to litigate almost every step of the way.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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