Another HSUS lawsuit dismissed

Oct 4, 2013

— Judge said HSUS had no standing in case, could show no injury.

“Pork” in politics is shorthand for frivolous, self-aggrandizing spending allocations by lawmakers. It seems the term could—or should—also apply to the lawsuit antics of the Humane Society of the U.S.

HSUS’ recent “pork” lawsuit against the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) was slapped down by U.S. district judge Amy Berman Jackson in the last week of September. Judge Jackson basically said HSUS had no standing to bring the case, couldn’t prove injury, and was effectively trying to sue the wrong defendant anyway.

Back in December of last year, HSUS had initiated a lawsuit against USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. HSUS, along with two other plaintiffs, challenged Vilsack’s approval of NPPC’s sale of the “Pork; the other white meat” slogan to the National Pork Board (NPB). They alleged the sale price and other exchange of monies between the groups violated laws prohibiting pork checkoff funds (collected by NPB) to go to lobbying, lobbying being one of NPPC’s common activities.

The court granted Vilsack’s motion that the case be dismissed. In her closing opinion on the case, Judge Jackson wrote, “the Court finds that plaintiffs do not have standing to bring this suit… because they have failed to plausibly allege that the Secretary’s actions caused them an injury in fact that will likely be redressed by a favorable decision in this case.”

Entertainingly, the specific address of HSUS’ participation in the case amounted to a dismissal because it and its interests are irrelevant to the case it tried to bring.

“The goals that bring the memberships of these two organizations [HSUS and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, one of the other plaintiffs] together are protecting animals and assuring their humane treatment, and promoting responsible and sustainable farming. But that is not what this case is about.”

The fact HSUS and the other plaintiffs effectively attempted to sue Secretary Vilsack while claiming the actions of NPPC had caused them injury, and the fact that—even had they sued the appropriate entity— they could prove no direct injury anyway, underpinned the decision to dismiss the case.

“If I were a donor to HSUS, I would be very disturbed that my money was wasted on yet another expensive lawsuit that had nothing to do with improving the welfare of farm animals,” said NPPC President Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, MN.

“This is clearly a vendetta against the U.S. pork industry by the leadership of HSUS, which has made their mission to permanently end animal agriculture very clear. It was frivolous and a waste of the taxpayers’ money and the court’s time. HSUS donors deserve better than that.” — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor