According to PETA's Web site, legal counsel Matthew Penzer filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court on Dec. 11, requesting an injunction to stop all broadcasting of the TV ads.
In the suit, PETA contends the CMAB, which represents the state's milk and cheese producers, is unlawfully misleading consumers about dairy cow living conditions. In the ads, images of cows grazing peacefully on lush rolling hills are paired with the words, "Great Cheese comes from Happy Cows. Happy Cows come from California."
On PETA's Web site are video stills from the CMAB commercials positioned next to PETA's own photos of dairy cows in cramped stalls laden with feces and mud. The photos, the group claims, prove that life as a dairy cow in California is far from the bucolic setting portrayed in CMAB's commercials.
"Consumers are misled into thinking cows in the dairy industry are well treated when, in fact, most of California's dairy cows live anything but easy lives," read a statement on PETA's Web site. "They are kept in feces- and urine-saturated, completely treeless, grassless, "dry-lots" of dirt ... ."
In April, PETA filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the ads. But the FTC ruled not to take action against the CMBA.
A representative of the CMBA was not immediately available to comment on the lawsuit.