Group brings suit over animal testing, says University of Minnesota is unlawfully secretive

Animal rights activists want to take the University of Minnesota to court over its alleged secrecy in animal testing.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and Minneapolis resident Isaac Peter filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota on Thursday, accusing its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of violating the state’s open records and open meetings laws.

The civil complaint, filed in Hennepin County district court, accuses the University of denying ALDF and Peter access to IACUC meetings and documents.

IACUC reviews all University research projects involving animals to “ensure that they are justified by their benefits and minimize any animal pain or suffering that might occur,” according to the committee’s website.

ALDF claims that because the University is a public body, IACUC meetings should be open to the public according to the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, and its records should be made available upon request as outlined in the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said his office has yet to be formally served with the complaint and cannot comment until it has had the opportunity to review the case.

The complaint cites requests for access from ALDF and Peter ranging from early 2007 to Oct. 29 of this year. Among these were requests for emails mentioning IACUC, the University’s public access procedures and a categorical list of records the University is required to release.

According to the complaint, the University has denied access to meetings, claiming it is not subject to the Open Meeting Law and has yet to satisfy any of Peter’s or ADLF’s requests.

Peter led the Minnesota Primate Freedom Project from 2006-09, which used documentation from labs to profile the experiences of animals used in research.

“The public has the legal right to know what the University of Minnesota is doing to animals in the name of research,” Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF, said in a press release.

“This willful violation of state law and animal welfare law must end.”

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