When Stephens Group originally filed its multimillion dollar lawsuit against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, SHAC and other animal rights groups accused the company of trying to suppress free speech. Now Stephens is trying to drop its lawsuit while SHAC plans on asking a court to force Stephens to proceed with the lawsuit.
In a joint action in April 2001, Huntingdon Life Sciences sued SHAC seeking $2 million in damages and Stephens sued seeking $7 million. The lawsuit accused SHAC of violating the |Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations| statute and sought compensation for the poor performance of HLS.
Stephens recently announced that it had sold its investment in HLS to an as-yet undisclosed buyer. SHAC’s Kevin Jonas told The Financial Times (London) that it had been notified by Stephens that the company plans to drop its lawsuit. Jonas said that SHAC will seek to have the lawsuit proceed.
“We want this suit against us to proceed,” Jonas told The Financial Times. “The whole basis for it conflicts with Stephens’ argument for selling out last week. . . . We want Stephens to go against us in court, because we belive they will be forced to disclose the exact nature of their relationships with HLS.”
Jonas and SHAC seem to think that Stephens Group is maintaining some sort of business relationship with HLS. If so, SHAC seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth, on the one hand claiming credit for driving Stephens to sever ties with HLS, and on the other hand seemingly claiming that Stephens really hasn’t cut ties with the company at all.
HLS will, of course, become Life Sciences Research sometime this week, and under Maryland law (where Life Sciences Research is incorporated), investors with less than a 5 percent stake can remain anonymous.
Protest group in court move. Patrick Jenkins, The Financial Times (London), January 15, 2002.
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