Case Snapshot
Case ID: 6431
Classification: Mutilation/Torture
Animal: other wildlife, captive exotic
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Sunday, Dec 31, 2000

County: Alameda

Disposition: USDA Citation

Person of Interest: University of California

The University of California San Francisco has agreed to pay $92,500 to settle a legal complaint filed in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging 75 violations of the Animal Welfare Act in UCSF's animal research labs between 2001 and 2003. It is one of the highest fines ever levied against a research institution by USDA.

UCSF had hired the powerful Washington, DC law firm of Covington and Burling, which defends Big Tobacco and the oil and pharmaceutical industries, to fight the charges. After publicly denying the "vast majority" of allegations and requesting a public hearing, UCSF settled the case September 23, 2005. The move enables UCSF to avoid evidence of federal violations in open court hearings, which had been scheduled to begin October 4, 2005.

Among the USDA's allegations: performing a craniotomy on a monkey without post-surgical analgesia; subjecting at least one monkey to multiple injections of a brain-destroying chemical through the carotid artery; and performing surgery on a ewe and her fetus without post-surgical pain relief. The violators include some of UCSF's top investigators, including: Henry Ralston, Kris Bankewicz, Michael Merzenich and Jeffrey Fineman.

In 2000, UCSF paid a stipulated penalty of $2000 to USDA for AWA violations, bringing the total fines paid by UCSF for animal welfare transgressions to $94,500. IDA is aware of only two other instances in which such steep fines were levied against research labs. In 1995, New York University agreed to pay $450,000 to settle USDA charges for Animal Welfare Act violations in its labs ($25,000 went to USDA; $425,000 went to a now-defunct chimp lab where NYU dumped its chimps). And, in 2002, the University of Connecticut agreed to pay $129,500 to settle USDA charges.


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