Animal Law Litigation Clinic
Students Argue in Federal Court to Protect Farmed Animals
In December 2019 and February 2020, the ALLC filed two lawsuits on behalf of a coalition of organizations, challenging the deregulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of pig slaughterhouses and its failure to protect downed pigs (pigs who are too sick or injured to walk). Two law students presented oral arguments in federal court last spring in opposition to the USDA’s motions to dismiss both lawsuits. The judge denied the motions to dismiss, ruling in favor of the ALLC’s clients in June 2021. The lawsuits will now proceed on the merits.
In March 2021, Ellie Nicoletta ’21 argued in opposition to the USDA’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the deregulation of pig slaughter. The new line speeds would expose pigs to greater suffering, as well as jeopardize worker safety, food safety, and the environment.
“The deregulation harms animals, workers, and the public. The only ones benefiting here are the owners of slaughterhouse conglomerates,” said Nicoletta. Reflecting on her experience, she noted, “As a student, being able to participate in this litigation and argue in federal court has been incredible. I have worked with amazing attorneys and professors in animal law. Most importantly, I have been able to practice and test my skills as an advocate for animals and their humane treatment.”
In February 2021, Brittany Rowe ’21 argued against the USDA’s motion to dismiss the ALLC’s second lawsuit. Rowe spoke up for the interests of the more than 500,000 downed pigs who enter slaughterhouses in the United States annually. She appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York via Zoom on behalf of seven animal protection organizations.
“The oral argument was both exciting and a little nerve-wracking, particularly knowing I was arguing against a seasoned DOJ trial attorney,” said Rowe, “but thanks to the thorough moot court sessions, I felt well prepared and enjoyed the experience.”
Students working in the animal law clinics this year were supported by one or more of the following scholarships: the Dean’s Scholarship; the Discovery Grant; the Evening Tuition Award; the Marcy B. Hertzmark Memorial Scholarship; the Online LLM Environmental Leadership Award; and the Peter Nycum Scholarship.