Contact: Zach Groff, zach@directactioneverywhere.com, (703) 217-0000

Bay Area Retiree Charged IN COSTCO EGG CRUELTY EXPOSé

Investigation Found Mass Cannibalism, Cruelty At “Certified Humane, Cage-Free” Egg Supplier

Diane Gandee Sorbi at an animal sanctuary.

February 3, Redwood City, CA Last night, Diane Gandee Sorbi, 62, a retiree, animal shelter volunteer, and advocate with the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), was charged with theft, larceny, and criminal mischief for allegedly rescuing a dying hen as part of an investigation of a Costco egg supplier, Pleasant Valley Farms, in San Joaquin County. The exposé, which broke in The New York Times in October 2016, documented intensive confinement and cannibalism at a supplier of Costco’s Kirkland private label eggs. Gandee Sorbi is alleged to have removed a hen who was featherless, covered in feces, and unable to walk as a result of abuses endured at the farm, which Costco markets as “cage-free” and “humane.” The DxE activists say the charges are retaliation for whistleblowing and an end-run around the agricultural industry’s failed attempt to pass “ag-gag” legislation in California.

“These investigators are doing exactly what any good person would do: they’re helping animals who are sick and suffering,” said Sonya Mehta, a lawyer for Gandee Sorbi at the civil rights firm Siegel & Yee. “If the industry actually cared about animal welfare or transparency, it would be praising people like Diane instead of punishing them.”

DxE activists have undertaken two major investigations of Costco suppliers in the past year and found widespread suffering. In July 2016, an investigation into the Farmer John pig farm found mass disease and the use of banned antibiotics at one of Costco’s largest pig suppliers, which was marketed as “natural” by Costco. In October 2016, DxE released an investigation showing mass cannibalism among egg-laying hens at Pleasant Valley Farms, which produces Kirkland brand eggs sold at Costco stores. The increasing ability of grassroots activists to expose misconduct by corporations, activists say, has led to politically-motivated attempts to silence their speech and repress their activism.

Gandee Sorbi, who lives in Redwood City with her husband Dan, was born in San Francisco and has lived her whole life in the Bay Area. Diane is an avid reader and enjoys fruit and vegetable gardening. She is a regular volunteer at local animal shelters and sits on the board of the Humane Party, a U.S. political party for animal rights.

“The animal at issue in this case, Ella, was dying and would have literally been thrown into the garbage by the farm. Instead, she is now healthy and living at a sanctuary -- which is what every animal deserves,” Mehta said.

Mehta says that Gandee Sorbi plans to plead not guilty and mount a vigorous legal defense against the charges.

Direct Action Everywhere is a network of animal rights activists working to challenge speciesism throughout society.  We use creative protest to challenge the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment.  Visit Direct Action Everywhere on facebook and at http://directactioneverywhere.com/.  Follow us on Twitter @DxEverywhere.

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