Fired Researcher Claims Animal Cruelty at NV Lab

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A former scientist at an animal testing facility in Nevada where 32 research monkeys were accidentally killed in May claims in a federal lawsuit he was fired partly because he opposed "cruel and inhumane mistreatment" of animals there.

Guy Grimsley, 65, said in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Reno that he believes his age also had something to do with his firing after he was hired last year to work at Charles River Laboratories in Sparks.

But he said the company also knew he would fight any "unlawful or wrongful animal testing," so they forced him out without explanation.

Amy Cianciaruso, spokeswoman for the Delaware-based corporation,
said she could not speak directly to Grimsley's allegations but denied animals had intentionally been mistreated. She said the company's first concern is the fair treatment of animals.

"Obviously, we can't discuss personnel issues, but we have a commitment to humane care, and we take that seriously," Cianciaruso said. "It's at the core of everything we do at Charles River."

Grimsley, who has a doctorate in pathology and immunology from the University of Western Australia, said he had been recruited by Charles River in 2006 and hired soon after. He said he received a signing bonus of $25,000, up to $15,000 in moving expenses and an annual salary of $150,000 plus benefits.

But in May 2007, he learned that the lab "planned to conduct experiments involving more severe animal tethering," which officials knew Grimsley would oppose, the suit said.

At the same time, the lab instituted a plan to begin tests on dogs at the Sparks facility, the suit said.

Grimsley, born in England, told lab officials that European standards would require that the dogs be "housed in runs rather than cages," but officials ignored his calls and told staff to lie to clients about how the dogs would be kept, the suit said.

"Management of CRL was aware that because of his European heritage, plaintiff Grimsley was vehemently opposed to mistreatment
of facility animals," the suit said. "Defendant CRL knew that plaintiff Grimsley would not stand by and allow the continued mistreatment of test animals."

As a result of that opposition, Grimsley said he was "summarily terminated" in October with no advance notice and despite having received a performance evaluation three months before his firing saying his work was "outstanding."

His lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees.

Charles River has operated a facility in Sparks since 1992, and one in Reno since 2007. It produces products and services for biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the development of drugs.

Last month, it was learned that 32 monkeys had died in its facility in May because of overheating. Company officials said they have since improved security and training policies to prevent such deaths.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)