Duane Morris litigators have broad experience representing and advising individuals, businesses and other institutions that feature or utilize animals or animal products. Our trial lawyers have established a national profile in animal law and animal rights litigation, and have handled several matters for well-known corporate entities that have been the subject of national and international media coverage. For example, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Asian elephant case resulted in a $25.4 million recovery by the client against animal activist groups and their lawyers. Duane Morris animal law attorneys provide tough and effective trial and litigation defense before juries, judges and administrative tribunals in a wide variety of animal-related cases that tend to be difficult and hard-fought. Given the reality of the 24-hour news cycle, we also provide, when appropriate, assistance and guidance in developing a media strategy that aligns with the litigation strategy with an eye to protecting the client’s brand and neutralizing some opponents’ strategy of trying the case in the press. In addition, we convey perceptive and accurate counseling on regulatory and other issues concerning animals to help our clients manage the risks presented by the regulatory state and by those interests who oppose the utilization of animals and/or animal products.
Our Trial and Litigation Work
Lawyers in our group have experience that dates back to the early 1990s when the animal rights movement in the United States and elsewhere began to fully emerge. Our knowledge has grown and kept pace with the expansion of the activists’ activities and agendas. As a result, we have developed a broad spectrum of experience in the issues that often arise in animal-related cases. These areas include “taking” claims under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); violations of the animal care standards of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA); RICO claims and claims under state conspiracy statutes; challenges to federal permitting actions under the ESA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); tort claims, including tortious interference with contract and business relations, product disparagement, conspiracy, abuse of process, malicious prosecution and invasion of privacy; defamation claims, including issues arising under state anti-SLAPP laws; constitutional questions, including First Amendment defenses to defamation claims, commercial vs. noncommercial speech, street protest and other public venue demonstrations and Article III standing to sue; state charitable solicitation laws; cases brought under various state consumer fraud statutes including the California Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act; workplace issues for animal businesses, including workplace violence restraining orders, federal and state wiretapping claims and other issues of electronic surveillance; and federal administrative litigation, including handling investigations and defending administrative enforcement actions brought by federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture and pursuing judicial challenges under the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to agency regulations, decisions and other actions.
Our Regulatory Work
We are well-versed in the complex regulations that govern animal issues at the federal, state and local levels. We have represented clients in contested matters or advised them in the following regulatory areas: USDA animal care standards; inspections conducted by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); investigations and administrative enforcement actions by USDA against licensed exhibitors; licensing for exhibitors under the AWA; regulatory standards applicable to endangered species subject to the ESA and the Department of Interior, Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) regulations; permits issued under the ESA for authorized “takes” and other activities; Captive Bred Wildlife permits and certificates issued by FWS as the U.S. Management Authority under the Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES); and state and local animal control and animal welfare laws.
Our client base is varied and mirrors the multiple ways in which animals have become critical to various lines of business. Our clients have spanned the following: traveling circuses; marine mammal parks; aquariums; wildlife parks; private and municipal zoos; product certification organizations; medical researchers; universities and medical research institutions; pork producers; apparel manufacturers whose products incorporate fur, down and wool; and live poultry exhibition. We strive to understand the details not only of our clients’ businesses, but also the challenges and frustrations that they often confront in the current environment in which the opposition tends to be aggressive and ideologically motivated. Our top priority is client service and a focus upon solutions for client problems. We stay continuously apprised of legal developments in the animal business sphere and have presented on various animal-related legal topics to a variety of audiences, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums, the Safari Club International, the National Animal Interest Alliance, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Our cases and advisory work have included the following animals: African elephant; African lion; Angora rabbit; Asian elephant; Bengal tiger; chicken; camel; capuchin monkey; comfort dog; coyote; dolphin; domestic pig; emperor penguin; hippopotamus; horse; orca (killer whale); Pekin duck; research dog; service dog; trained performing dog; trained performing house cat; turkey; white rhinoceros; white tiger; zebra; and zeedonk. We have worked with multiple professionals skilled in handling, training and providing animal care and husbandry for exotic, domestic and farm animal species in a range of environments including traveling exhibition, marine mammal parks, zoos and poultry production. This has included renowned veterinary doctors specializing in attending to the medical needs of exotic, domestic and farm animals; animal behaviorists; and specialists in captive animal breeding and artificial insemination.