Animal rights activist sues UF over public records

Negotiation is Over - Florida

by Nathan Crabbe (Gainesville Sun)

An animal rights activist has sued the University of Florida for denying a public records request for information on research involving primates.

Camille Marino, a Wildwood-based activist with the group Negotiation is Over, sued the university last week in an Alachua County circuit court. She made a request last fall for records on 33 non-human primates mentioned in a federal inspection report of UF research facilities.

She was asked to pay $566.54 for the records, but UF later provided just one redacted purchasing report for six primates and refunded the money.

“We need to know what’s going on inside their labs. They’re not exempt from the law … What are they hiding?” Marino said.

A copy of the lawsuit, posted on the Negotiation is Over website, can be found here.

In a letter to Marino, UF said purchasing reports more than five years old are destroyed under state regulation and cited a state law protecting the confidentiality of veterinary patient records in denying the request for other records. The lawsuit, filed by Gainesville attorney Marcy LeHart, argues that the primates are not UF patients and “any procedures performed on them are certainly not for the benefit of the primates.”

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said the university received a courtesy copy of the lawsuit had yet been served, and would respond appropriately when it was.

“We take the safety of our researchers, the rigorous regulations on the treatments of animals and all of our compliance obligations very seriously,” she said.

Negotiation is Over has distributed fliers offering $100 rewards for information on students involved in animal research, leading UF police to issue a warning to students at the start of the semester. It identified one 18-year-old Gainesville woman on the website before taking down the information and has previously posted the addresses and phone numbers of UF faculty researchers.

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