HLS Sued
Jan. 4, 2006

The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has sued Huntingdon Life Sciences of Somerset County, challenging its use of animals in laboratory research just weeks before six animal rights activists are to be tried on charges that they waged a terror campaign against the company.

The NJSPCA, a private quasi-police agency operating under an 1868 animal cruelty law, insisted yesterday it was not embracing the activists' cause. It filed the lawsuit in Middlesex County, charging the Britain-based firm with more than 100 counts of animal cruelty.

But the lawsuit, like the activists, lambastes HLS's use of animals in product research, and the case is based largely on decade-old incidents that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said they videotaped in 1996 and 1997 through an undercover operative.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture probed the PETA charges in 1998, when it also reached a federal court settlement with HLS to improve conditions for animals held at its East Millstone facility. But HSL had also sued PETA, and the alleged evidence PETA gathered had been sealed, until last year, under a federal court settlement reached in the case.

"The USDA did its investigation, but the NJSPCA has its own duties under state law," said NJSPCA spokesman Matt Stanton. "More importantly, this is not the NJSPCA taking up the cause for PETA or Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty."