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Lawsuit alleging San Jacinto dairy abused its cows dismissed – press enterprise

A judge dismissed legal action brought by an animal rights organization who was seeking to close a dairy in San Jacinto because she said owners mistreated their cows.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Irma P. Asberry ruled on Thursday, December 10 that Animal Legal Defense Fund does not have the legal capacity to take legal action, said attorney Stephen G. Larson, who, along with Dana M. Howard of Larson LLP, represented Dick Van Dam. Dairy.

Asberry has also ruled that the lawsuit cannot be filed, Larson said.

The case had not reached the stage where Asberry could have spoken on the merits of the allegations themselves, Larson said.

The complaint was filed in October after an Animal Outlook activist, which promotes a vegan diet, infiltrated the dairy, posing as an employee. The activist, later identified as Erin Wing, took photos and videos that purported to show corpses of newborn calves rotting in pens, milk tainted with blood spilled into milk cans, employees hitting animals with metal poles and workers using bulldozers to lift cows.

Larson said the Van Dam family were happy with the layoff.

“Frankly, it hurt,” Larson said, “because the accusation that they mistreated their cows is something that cuts really deep because they care deeply about their cows.”

Family members watch the cows daily and a veterinarian examines each of the 1,500 cows at least once every two weeks, said Glen Van Dam, son of the owner.

Larson said there had never been a problem with animal care on the farm in his 63 years and the images were either staged or taken out of context.

Kelsey Eberly, senior lawyer at Animal Legal Defense Fund, challenged Larson’s statement.

“We categorically reject the claim that the video footage featured in the complaint was staged or taken out of context and, more broadly, the charge that our complaint was false or fabricated,” Eberly said. “The video was taken by someone who worked as a milker on the farm for two months. The investigator filmed hours of abuse and neglect, in which virtually all dairy workers participated. There is no proper context for understanding beating cows with broken canes or dragging and lifting slaughtered cows with tractors. We maintain the allegations contained in our complaint.

Federal law states that plaintiffs must have personally suffered some sort of prejudice to bring legal action. In a 1992 case, Lujan against defenders of wildlife, the United States Supreme Court ruled that members of the wildlife conservation organization had not been personally harmed by an Home Office policy on endangered species and therefore had no standing to sue.

Another spokesperson for Animal Legal Defense Fund said in an email that organizations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals should be allowed to prosecute anyone suspected of abusing animals.

“The bylaws under Sections 10404 and 14501 of the California Corporations Code allow SPCAs to” bring a complaint … for violation of any law relating to or affecting animals “and” to enforce the provisions of the laws of that state for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or arrest or prosecute offenders under it, or prevent cruelty to animals, “respectively, wrote the unidentified spokesperson.

“The statutes of application of the SPCA are in place so that the SPCA can combat cruelty and mistreatment of animals. This rejection of this case is in direct opposition to the will of the public and of the legislator who instituted these laws.

Kevin Abernathy, chief executive of the California Dairy Farmers Council, said dairies across the country were the target of activists. Most complaints are broadcast “in the court of public opinion,” Abernathy said, not in courtrooms.

“I would say there is a small vocal group of anti-agriculture people and they can be on the animal rights side or on the environmental side. They twist the things that are done in animal agriculture to support their views, ”Abernathy said.

Dairy Farmers of America, which produces Alta Dena Dairy and other brands, suspended its purchase of milk from Van Dam after the complaint was filed and ordered an audit of the dairy. A message was left at Dairy Farmers for comment on the layoff.

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