September 18, 2015

Drinker Biddle Receives 2015 ALDF Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Award

Significant pro bono work by Los Angeles lawyers Sheldon Eisenberg and Erin McCracken has been recognized by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), who awarded the firm the 2015 ALDF Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Award.

Sheldon and Erin will be recognized at the banquet dinner of the 2015 Animal Law Conference and also featured in a future issue of the AFDI newsletter, The Animals’ Advocate.

Examples of Sheldon and Erin’s work to advance the interests of animals follow.

In the case of Animal Legal Defense Fund v. LT Napa Partners LLC, which involved California’s ban on selling force-fed foie gras products, a critical issue was the meaning of the word “sale” within the context of the California Health and Safety Code provision banning the sale of foie gras, as the term is not defined in the statute.  Sheldon and Erin filed an amicus brief on behalf of California Senator and current Chairman of the California Democratic Party John L. Burton in support of the ALDF. The brief outlined the legislative history of California’s foie gras law and argued that the purpose of the law is to protect animals from inhumane treatment and that it must therefore be construed broadly to prohibit a California’s restaurant’s “gifting” of foie gras to paying customers. In a published opinion, the California Court of Appeal agreed with the ALDF and Senator Burton that the restaurant’s serving of foie gras as part of a tasting menu constituted a sale of foie gras and was therefore prohibited.

In another case, Drinker Biddle represented Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating the abuse of animals in research laboratories, in a case in the Los Angeles Superior Court against the University of California Regents.  The representation was a joint representation with ALDF.  The case was brought against the Regents based on the failure of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to comply with the California Public Records Act, which requires public universities such as UCLA to make records concerning publicly funded animal research projects available to members of the public.  Together with ALDF, Drinker Biddle obtained a settlement for the client pursuant to which UCLA disclosed all of the animal research records, which related to primate testing at UCLA, requested by the client under the California Public Records Act.

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