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Judge Won’t Dismiss ‘Possum Drop’ Lawsuit

(CN) - A North Carolina court denied the state's request to toss PETA's lawsuit challenging its potential permitting of a "'Possum Drop" on New Years Eve.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in November to try to stop the agency from allowing a 'Possum Drop' celebration in rural Brasstown, N.C. this year.

In its lawsuit, PETA claimed the commission lacks the authority to issue a permit or license for the possession and exhibition of a live opossum at the annual New Year's Eve event, which it characterized as incredibly cruel and potentially fatal to the wild animal which is suspended alive in a Plexiglas box before a noisy crowd of celebrants.

It's the second year in a row PETA has sued the state for the Opossum Drop, which is staged by convenience store operator Clay Logan, who is not a party to the lawsuit.

PETA sued the state in January 2012, claiming that though Logan was not trained or qualified to work with opossums, the Wildlife Commission created a special permit so he could hold the event. PETA won that round, when the court ruled the commission did not have the authority to issue Logan a permit to possess an opossum.

Logan has been organizing the alcohol-free event for about 20 years, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

In addition to the 'Possum Drop" the festivities include bluegrass music and a contest in which men dressed in drag compete to be crowned "Miss Possum Queen." Last year, after the litigation, a stuffed animal rather than a live opossum was used.

On Thursday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour denied the state's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

In a written statement, PETA's general counsel Jeff Kerr said, "PETA now continues the case in the hope of relegating this cruel event to the trash heap of history, where it belongs."

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission had not yet returned a call requesting comment when this article was published.

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