In September 2022, the US 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge ordered Louisiana State University (LSU) to pay $73,501.27 in attorney’s fees and costs to the animal rights organisation PETA. This is regarding the expenses during its successful lawsuit seeking public records related to LSU experimenter Christine Lattin’s taxpayer-funded experiments on sparrows.
PETA, along with local counsel Alysson Mills and Kristen Amond of Mills & Amond LLP, filed the lawsuit in December 2020 against the LSU Board of Supervisors and Thomas Galligan, individually and in his capacity as then-president of LSU, as the school’s designated records custodian under Louisiana law. This lawsuit came about when the university refused to release public documents, such as veterinary records and videos, about Lattin’s research. She is an Assistant Professor whose research focuses on animal’s neurotransmitters and hormones. Lattin has been conducting harmful experiments on sparrows since 2008, from which she received more than $117,000 from the Louisiana Board of Regents. Her experiments on sparrows involve trapping them, pumping them with sex hormones, exposing them to predators’ calls, and then killing them. In January 2022, the court ordered LSU to release all the documents PETA requested. Now, in addition to having had to produce the documents, LSU needs to pay PETA litigation costs — which hopefully may deter the University to try to stop scrutiny of its research practices, and perhaps stop conducting unethical experiments on wild birds or any other sentient being.
Lori Kettler, PETA Foundation General Counsel, said, “This court recognizes the importance of Louisiana public records law, which LSU has attempted to evade…The public has the right to know how its funds are spent by public institutions. LSU must not be allowed to hide its atrocities.”