Miami-Dade County

Judge dismisses suit against Miami-Dade primate-research protesters

A judge on Wednesday dismissed a Miami company’s lawsuit against a group of activists known for its aggressive protests against medical research on primates.

Worldwide Primates Inc., which provides monkeys and apes to research labs, had requested a restraining order against members of Smash HLS.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stanford Blake ruled the lawsuit had not legally proved the 11 protesters were a nuisance or a source of emotional distress toward company operations manager John Resuta.

But the judge will allow Resuta to refile the lawsuit if lawyers can come up with a different legal strategy. Lawyers for the company said they intend to file a new suit.

The protesters have staged frequent rallies outside the West Miami-Dade company and the homes of its employees. The company insists the group crosses the line, swamping employees with harassing phone calls, using bull- and air-horns, and trespassing on the private property of employees.

In October, protesters pelted a Worldwide employee’s car with rocks, and one member jumped onto the hood, an incident that resulted in a slew of arrests.

Worldwide’s lawyer, John Sutton, told the judge Wednesday that harassment offensive against Resuta and the company was “like the Tet offensive in Vietnam.”

“My client can’t stand the anxiety of when the next violent attack will occur,” Sutton said.

Lawyer Tom Julin, representing the Smash HLS members, said the majority of the protests have been peaceful and were protected by the Constitution.

“They’re intending to express their heartfelt belief that the animals shouldn’t be used in this way,” Julin told the judge.