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PCRM Battles California University’s Cruel Experiments

Plaintiff Larry Hansen, M.D., at the original lawsuit filing in July, 2007When animal experimenters at a public university repeatedly violate federal law by mistreating monkeys and other animals, taxpayers should not have to pay the resulting fines, according to a lawsuit filed by PCRM attorneys. Yet that is exactly what is happening at the University of California, San Francisco, which has a disturbing history of serious Animal Welfare Act violations.

That is why PCRM is pressing forward with a lawsuit filed against the school on behalf of six California doctors alleging that UCSF unlawfully uses state funds for animal experiments that violate the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The lawsuit, originally filed last year in the Superior Court of the State of California, centers on UCSF’s use of taxpayer dollars to perform duplicative experiments on monkeys in violation of the Animal Welfare Act and to pay fines arising out of those violations. PCRM filed an appeal in early May after the judge ruled that a state court cannot take action on activities that may be subject to the Animal Welfare Act.

Over the past decade, government inspectors have repeatedly documented serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act at UCSF. In 2005, the university paid $92,500—reportedly the fourth-largest settlement amount ever for violations of this nature.

Under California law, taxpayers are entitled to sue if state resources are funding illegal activities or being used wastefully. The PCRM lawsuit asks the Superior Court to cut off the funding for these experiments until the school can come into compliance with the law.

Macaque in the wildThe judge dismissed the lawsuit at the trial court level, reasoning that the Animal Welfare Act is so broad and pervasive that it disallows states from independently taking any action that might affect the same subject matter. But on appeal, PCRM’s legal counsel pointed out that the Animal Welfare Act and the state law upon which the lawsuit is based are complementary, and the Animal Welfare Act explicitly welcomes parallel state regulation such as this lawsuit.

Many of the experiments mentioned in the lawsuit are invasive experiments involving macaque monkeys. One study involved researchers drilling holes in the monkeys’ skulls, bolting metal restraining devices into their heads, and using attached recording devices to track their eye movements and brain function while the monkeys “worked” to receive such rewards as water.

This experiment caused great pain and stress to the animals, and according to plaintiff Larry Hansen, M.D., a professor of neurosciences and pathology who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease, it will not yield results applicable to humans.

As of press time, PCRM is waiting for the court to schedule a hearing for PCRM to argue its appeal.


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