On 10th April 2024, the Animal Activist Legal Defense Project (AALDP) at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law filed a lawsuit against Colorado State University (CSU) over alleged failure to comply with the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) regarding an investigation in a commercial slaughter facility where CSU did some research.

In 2020, CSU conducted a study, funded by the meat industry, later published in an article titled “Intraobserver and interobserver reliability of mud scoring systems for use in cattle at slaughter”. It looked at mud scoring (how much mud was on the hides of cows at a slaughterhouse facility). Separately, Animal Partisan was investigating behaviour in the study at the slaughterhouse and requested CSU video and photos under CORA laws of this mud research. However, it seems that the university denied these, prompting the lawsuit.

Steffen Seitz, a litigation fellow with AALDP at the Sturm College of Law and one of the attorneys working on the case, said to The Rocky Mountain Collegian“(AALDP) is dedicated to advocating for animals and also for government transparency,…I think the public has an overriding interest in knowing what researchers at public universities are doing, especially (if) they’re acting in concert with industry.” 

According to the newspaper, the university initially invoked an exception to CORA, which stated that if ongoing research happens, records do not have to be disclosed. Seitz commented about the following: “That seems a little bit fishy to (AALDP) just because the study had already published…It didn’t seem like any ongoing work was happening, (and) it didn’t seem like this exception actually applied…The university suddenly got back to AALDP and said, ‘Actually, it turns out the records were destroyed.’ …They were on a private Google Drive, and they were deleted without anyone knowing. And that also seems weird because they took (a) a long time to look for these records. They said they did a thorough search. They invoked exceptions (with) ongoing research, which implies that they at least talked to the researcher and asked about whether there’s ongoing stuff happening.”

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.