On this episode of the Animal Law Podcast, I am delighted to welcome Cheryl Leahy, Executive Vice President of Animal Outlook, about US ex rel. COK v Superior Farms, which arose out of Animal Outlook’s investigation into the largest lamb slaughterhouse in the US. This investigation uncovered numerous violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) as well as the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Cheryl explains that the ritual halal slaughter performed in this slaughterhouse is NOT exempted from the HMSA, as many believe, but is covered by different rules, which were not followed here. Moreover, since some of the flesh from these lambs was sold to the federal government as halal meat, this created fertile ground for a lawsuit pursuant to the False Claims Act. It is Cheryl’s hope that the successful settlement of this suit will be one of many lawsuits brought pursuant to this statute, which has the potential to be a promising avenue for requiring laws protecting animals to be followed, not to mention for protecting the government from being defrauded. Indeed, this case has the potential to serve as a model for lawyers interested in suing animal abusers, helping animals, stopping fraud on the government, and making a few, or maybe more than a few, bucks.
Cheryl Leahy is the Executive Vice President of Animal Outlook, having served, from 2006-2019, as Animal Outlook’s General Counsel. She works on the strategic direction of the organization as a whole, especially focusing on the use of undercover investigations as a mechanism for high-impact advocacy, and on targeting large-scale abuse of farmed animals through proactive litigation. Her work includes challenging cruel, yet standard, practices forced upon farmed animals as well as unfair industry practices such as misleading marketing of meat, milk, and eggs often found in grocery stores.
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