On Tuesday, California resident Alain Michael filled a lawsuit, seeking class-action status, against milk brand Fairlife and Sue and Mike McCloskey—owners of one of the brand’s milk suppliers Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. The lawsuit follows an undercover investigation conducted at Fair Oaks Farms and released in multiple parts by animal-rights group Animal Recovery Mission (ARM). Last week, ARM released its first four-minute long video which revealed workers at Fair Oaks Farms routinely torturing calves, along with a follow-up hour-long video documenting further abuse and neglect by employees and managers. Michael alleges that he purchased Fairlife products—which are distributed by The Coca-Cola Company—based solely on the brand’s prominent claims of providing “extraordinary care and comfort” for its cows. “But Fairlife’s and its founders’ promise is a sham,” the lawsuit states. “As a matter of routine and practice, Fairlife’s cows are tortured, kicked, stomped on, body slammed, stabbed with steel rebar, thrown off the side of trucks, dragged through the dirt by their ears, and left to die in over 100-degree heat. Calves [who] do not survive the torture are dumped in mass graves. To add insult to injury, the abuse is rampant even at Fairlife’s ‘flagship farm in Indiana’ that customers are urged to visit on the products’ labels.”
Authorities have issued warrants for arrest for four of the individuals depicted in ARM’s first video—one of whom has been detained. Mike McCloskey has issued several statements explaining that he was unaware of the abuse, characterizing the first portion of ARM’s investigation as an isolated incident.
This week, ARM released new footage collected at Fair Oaks Farms that depicts workers abusing mother cows—some with visible eye infections and afterbirth hanging from their bodies—in a rotating milk parlor. “What Fair Oaks Farms is leading the public to believe, isn’t all what it is cracked up to be,” ARM Founder Richard Couto said in the new, highly graphic video. To promote its “humane” image, Fair Oaks Farms hosts curated tours of a portion of its facilities but Couto explains that the public is never exposed to the cruelty that cows endure at unseen portions of the farm. “The average age for a Fair Oaks dairy cow is four to five years old,” Cuoto said. “They’re living on cement; they’re living in their own feces; they’re being forcefully impregnated on a yearly basis only to have those babies ripped from them the moment they’re born.” Couto explained that while ARM was able to capture footage at Fair Oaks Farms, the abuse is a dairy industry-wide issue. “One or two arrests by law enforcement is not going to cure the issue,” Couto said. “It is not going to stop the animal cruelty. The only thing that’s going to stop the animal cruelty is literally ending the industry. We want people to understand that these cows are being abused because people are buying the products. The buyer is supporting this industry.”