Insurer settles in FoA vs. U.S. Surgical

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1997:

NEW YORK––Federal judge Stephen
Eginton on January 23 dismissed a U.S. Surgical
Corporation lawsuit pending against Friends of Animals
since 1990.
“FoA will now appeal the 1993 dismissal of
its own claims,” said FoA attorney Herman Kaufman,
“which arose from the alleged wiretapping of the FoA
office in 1988-1989, and from the use of [fringe
activist] Fran Trutt to stage a so-called ‘assassination’
attempt against [U.S. Surgical president] Leon Hirsch.”
Trutt was arrested in November 1988 while
placing a pipe bomb in the U.S. Surgical parking lot.
She was given the money to buy the bomb and driven to
the site by Marc Mead, an employee of Perceptions
International, a security firm hired by U.S. Surgical.
Trutt and Mead were introduced by another Perceptions
operative, Mary Lou Sappone, who met and befriended
Trutt in April 1988. Earlier, Sappone tried to interest at
least two other people in bombing Hirsch and/or U.S.
Surgical, but was rebuffed and not taken seriously.

U.S. Surgical played up the Trutt arrest, and
Trutt’s plea bargain of a year in jail, with a barrage of
advertisements and press releases blaming the action on
a long FoA campaign against the the firm’s use of animals
in product demonstrations and research.
“We will challenge the dismissal of our action
against U.S. Surgical, on grounds of judicial bias,”
Kaufman said. “We will ask the Second Circuit Court
of Appeals to examine the relationship between Hugh
Keefe, counsel for U.S. Surgical, and magistrate
Thomas Smith,” who tossed the FoA case for alleged
abuse of discovery, when FoA tried to depose Hirsch.
“While representing U.S. Surgical,” Kaufman
added, “Keefe was also chair of a committee to review
the reappointment of Smith as federal magistrate. The
committee did recommend Smith. In addition,”
Kaufman said, “FoA will argue that it was a victim of
discovery abuse. For example, Smith forced FoA’s
president and vice president to endure an unheard of 500
hours of pre-trial depositions.”
According to FoA president Priscilla Feral,
the organization’s insurer bought out the suit, “over our
strenuous objection. We contend,” she said, “that no
one had in any way established claims against us.“
A U.S. Surgical release issued January 29
claimed that, “FoA, rather than continue the litigation,
has agreed to pay U.S. Surgical $225,000 in damages,”
and quoted Hirsch as saying the firm was “pleased to be
Resplied FoA president Priscilla Feral, “As
Hirsch well knows, we did not pay anything, and he’s
exonerated of nothing.”
The unilaterally imposed insurer settlement
was similar to the insurer buyout of a lawsuit filed by
the pharmaceutical firm Immuno AG against
International Primate Protection League president
Shirley McGreal, over allegations she made in a 1983
letter to the International Journal of Primatology. After
the insurer forced McGreal out of the case, her codefendant,
IJP editor Jan Moor-Jankowski, fought on
at his own expense to win a landmark U.S. Supreme
Court verdict for press freedom.

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