Judge tosses lawsuit against UC San Francisco

Medical research on dogs, monkeys and other animals will continue at UC San Francisco, as a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit by animal rights activists that claimed their rights as taxpayers were violated when the university pays fines for breaking the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Attorneys for the activists had asked the San Francisco Superior Court judge to appoint an independent monitor to oversee animal research at the university, and to shut down the university’s animal research until it guaranteed that it would comply with the federal animal welfare law.

But Judge Patrick Mahoney on Tuesday sided with university lawyers, who argued that such aruling would interfere with the agriculture department’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.

“The plaintiffs are essentially trying to circumvent federal law,” University of California counsel Chris Patti told The Examiner.

Dan Kimburn, an attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and for the six Southern California professors and physicians who launched the court case, said he would appeal the ruling.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has previously cited UC San Francisco researchers for violating the Animal Welfare Act.

In December 2003, researchers were cited because a monkey was not given proper painkillers after its skull was cut open, according to court documents.

The fines associated with the violations include a $92,500 settlement in 2005, court documents show.

The animal activists adopted a novel strategy in the case, according to committee spokeswoman Jeanne McVey.

“If you’re a person, you can’t sue under the Animal Welfare Act, because the purpose is to protect animals,” McVey said. “And animals can’t sue because they’re animals.”

jupton@examiner.com

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