Little Italy's Born & Raised Steakhouse Is Being Sued By A California Animal Protection Group Over Serving Illegal Foie Gras

August 2, 2019

California non-profit Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL) has filed a lawsuit against San Diego's popular Little Italy steakhouse Born and Raised for violating a state animal cruelty law after the restaurant refused to stop selling foie gras, which is the enlarged liver from force-fed ducks and is illegal in California under a law APRL helped pass.

The lawsuit - which was filed on June 27, 2019 by the Animal Protection and Rescue League Inc. against CH Projects Inc., Arsalun Tafazoli, and Consortium Holdings Corporate Chef Jason McLeod - cites California Health & Safety Code section 25982 that prohibits sale of products from a duck that has been force-fed for purposes of enlarging the liver. It also references a 2008 resolution passed by the San Diego City Council praising APRL's efforts to expose the cruelty of foie gras and encouraging restaurants to remove this item without waiting for the state law to take effect, which happened in 2012. The lawsuit also details how APRL has repeatedly asked Born & Raised to stop selling illegal foie gras and how it refused. APRL is seeking an injunction to comply with California Health & Safety Code section 25982 and is represented by attorneys Bryan Pease, Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi, and Dave Simon. Although Born & Raised Steakhouse claimed to remove illegal foie gras in response to the lawsuit, the APRL is continuing to seek an injunction in hopes of preventing future sales.

The California foie gras law is Senate Bill 1520, which was at the request of a coalition of animal protection organizations includinng APRL. The law prohibits the "force feeding of a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size" as well as the sale of any products that are a result of this illegal process. This law ultimately outlawed the traditional method of producing foie gras in California. It was enacted in 2004 and went into effect on July 1, 2012. On January 7, 2015, a U.S. District Court held that the portion of California's law banning the sale of foie gras within the state was preempted by the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act, which stopped the California Attorney General from enforcing the ban for a period of time. That decision was overturned on appeal on September 15, 2017, but the decision was stayed in December 2017 to permit the plaintiffs to petition the U.S. Supreme Court, which was denied in January 2019, resulting in the ban on foie gras going back into effect statewide.

For more information about the lawsuit, see the full complaint here