Caloosa Belle

Primate Products center-stage at Circuit Court

On Monday, January 22, Primate Products, the controversial primate breeding facility located in south Hendry County, was again center-stage in Hendry County Circuit Court. The facility has been engaged in litigation initiated by animal rights activists who, for several years, have accused the facility, and others, with animal abuse and creating dangerous conditions for those living in the area.

This time attorneys for plaintiff Samuel Tommie, a member of the Seminole Tribe, faced off with attorneys for the facility.

Attorneys for the defendant, Primate Products, argued first for dismissal, saying the motion was over-complicated and should have cited only individual nuisances suffered by Mr. Tommie, not public nuisances. The inclusion of both, they said, made the charges difficult to address. Individual nuisances, they argued, pertain to grievances specific to an individual that are over and above any suffered by the general public.

In addition, they felt Hendry County should not be included in the motion.

Attorneys for the facility hoped Judge Sloan would grant a dismissal, saying in part, the motion had a lack of standing and is not specific enough.

Mr. Tommie’s attorneys’ rebuttal charged that the facility is used for purposes other than “farming,” including as a research facility, for educational activities and to house animals for other facilities. They felt the facility should be forced to “prove” that it is a farm.

Citing previous court actions, defense attorneys said that the facility meets the state’s definition of a farm, which covers activities with “any animals useful to humans.”

Mr. Tommie also claims that the facility discharges dangerous waste materials; keeps diseased animals; and creates a situation dangerous to human health.

They said they were not challenging Hendry County’s actions, but only those of the facility itself. Previous charges that Hendry County violated the Sunshine Law by not holding public hearings before approving primate-breeding facilities as agricultural endeavors have been put to rest.

At the end of the procedure, Circuit Court Judge James D. Sloan took all the documents presented by both sides for his consideration.