Thursday, September 10, 2015

Suit Challenges Kapparot Ceremonies Under California's Unfair Competition Law

In Los Angeles a group of animal rights activists have filed a state court lawsuit seeking to stop public kapparot ceremonies.  The Jewish Journal reports on the lawsuit, filed August 26,  challenging the pre-Yom Kippur ceremony which uses live chickens that are subsequently slaughtered.  Apparently, at least in previous years, in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood kapparot has been promoted with booths set up in parking lots, large banners and barkers in chicken costumes. Some say that the anti-kapparot protests in the Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles have now driven the practice underground.

The lawsuit contends that the practice violates California's Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code Sec. 17200- 17210). The law's definition of unfair competition includes "any unlawful ... business act or practice."  A suit for an injunction and damages may be brought by "a person who has suffered injury in fact and has lost money or property as a result of the unfair competition."  The complaint, filed on behalf of seven plaintiffs, claims that in transporting, storing, and slaughtering the chickens, and later disposing of their blood and fecal matter, the six synagogues and five individuals named as defendants violate an average of eleven laws. Plaintiffs claim interesting losses to give them standing: expenses for travel to kapparot protests, time lost from work as a result of attending the protests and the cost of printing leaflets. One plaintiff claimed veterinarian bills for two chickens she rescued from one of the synagogues named as a defendant.