IDA, FoA fight U.S. Surgical Corp.
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1996:
SAN FRANCISCO– – Twenty
activists including In Defense of Animals
president Eliot Katz were arrested at an
October 8 protest in San Francisco against
U.S. Surgical Corporation involvement in the
annual meeting of the American College of
Surgeons. Apparently the only significant
funder of the pro-animal research group
Americans for Medical Progress, U.S.
Surgical is prominent in transgenic research
using animals, and continues to do sales
demonstrations of surgical staples on live
dogs, the practice that incited Friends of
Animals to lead 27 protests at the U.S.
Surgical headquarters in Norwalk,
Connecticut, between 1983 and 1992.
FoA suspended the demonstrations
and other public comment about U.S.
Surgical for four years, 1992-1996, during
legal action resulting from the November
1988 attempted bombing of the U.S. Surgical
parking lot by New York City dog lover Fran
Trutt. U.S. Surgical president Leon Hirsch
blamed the deed on FoA, but Marc Mead,
an agent of the now defunct private security
firm Perceptions International, hired by U.S.
Surgical, revealed within days that he loaned
Trutt the money to buy the bomb and drove
her to the scene, on orders from fellow
Perceptions agent Mary Lou Sappone.
Recorded conversations between Sappone
and Trutt, played during Trutt’s pretrial
hearings in 1990, indicated that Sappone had
encouraged the bombing attempt since meeting
Trutt in April 1988.
FoA in 1990 sued Hirsch for
allegedly setting up the bombing to discredit
the protesters. Hirsch and U.S. Surgical
countersued. Federal magistrate Thomas P.
Smith dismissed the FoA case on an alleged
technicality involving an attempt to depose
Hirsch, but allowed U.S. Surgical attorney
Hugh Keefe to question FoA president
Priscilla Feral and her former assistant,
Sarah Seymour, for more than 400 hours,
compiling 8,000 pages of testimony. Keefe
simultaneously headed a legal review committee
which was to decide whether Smith
should be reappointed.
“In the annals of justice there is no
longer deposition, even in complicated
antitrust cases,” said FoA counsel Herman
Kaufman. “Smith said that if we objected,
we risked having our case dismissed.”
FoA went public about the situation
two weeks before the San Francisco
demonstration. The case has not been tried.