Orrick Secures 9th Circuit En Banc Win for Animal Legal Defense Fund


Orrick litigators today won a key ruling from a federal appeals court that allows the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to move forward with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding information about hen population and living conditions at factory egg farms. Orrick is handling the case pro bono for ALDF, a non-profit law organization that aims to protect the rights and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.

In a per curiam decision, an en banc panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Orrick’s arguments on the proper standard for reviewing FOIA cases, a particularly important finding for all lawsuits seeking to obtain vital public information from the government. The case stems from a December 2011 ALDF request under FOIA for government inspection records of factory egg farms; the organization sued after important information related to potential salmonella outbreaks was censored, including the number of hens roosting in Texas egg farms.

The decision by the en banc court enables the lawsuit to proceed in a case designed to determine if the government can withhold information relevant to its protection of the nation’s food supply.

“The Freedom of Information Act exists so that people can access important government records, like the vital public health information at issue in this case,” the ALDF said in a statement. “The Ninth Circuit’s decision to correct its framework for reviewing FOIA cases will help ensure that the government’s attempt to withhold such information is subject to the scrutiny that it deserves.”

The Orrick team was led by IP counsel Monte Cooper, partner Karen Johnson-McKewan and senior associate Derek Knerr and Supreme Court & Appellate partner Kelsi Brown Corkran and associates Rachel Wainer Apter and Ian Fein.