Wayne State University is exempt from answering a FOIA request about its use of dogs in medical research, because the last time it did “animal rights extremists” threatened its researchers with “torture and death,” the university claims in court.
The university sued the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, in Wayne County Court.
Wayne State claims it released records in 2011 to the Physicians Committee, which sought information on the university’s use of dogs in cardiovascular research.
“After WSU responded, PCRM launched a public attack against WSU, falsely accusing it of ‘inhumane’ and ‘cruel’ treatment of dogs in research,” the complaint states.
“Animal rights extremists quickly seized upon PCRM’s inflammatory accusations and began a campaign of harassment and intimidation against [one scientist], his family, WSU students and officials, including threats of injury, torture and death. One such extremist was subjected to a personal protection order by this court. The order was repeatedly violated, leading to citations for contempt and felony charges, including one for aggravated stalking.
“Despite the direct link between the release of [the scientist's] animal research records and substantial threats to the personal safety of [the scientist] and others, PCRM has persisted in its requests for such information through FOIA.”
Wayne State says the information requested is exempt from disclosure under the state’s privacy exemption.