Cases

  • Alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), plaintiffs sought to compel defendants to publish in the Federal Register proposed and final rules to remove the Washington, Oregon and California population of the marbled murrelet (a coastal bird) from the list of threatened species. Plaintiffs alleged that after defendants completed a five year review of the murrelet, defendants violated the ESA and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by failing to publish proposed and final rules "delisting" the murrelet. However, the court found that under the subsection upon which plaintiffs rely, the Secretary need publish a proposed regulation only after receiving a petition to add or remove species from the lists of threatened and endangered species and making certain findings. Because plaintiffs have not alleged or demonstrated that they filed a petition, they cannot establish that the Secretary has a duty to publish a proposed regulation. Thus, defendant's motion to dismiss was granted.

  • The issue here is whether FWS has an enforceable duty promptly to withdraw a threatened species from the protections of the ESA after a five-year agency review mandated by the Act found that the species does not fit into a protected population category. The species at issue here are murrelets-small, dove-sized birds that feed primarily on sea life and nest in coastal mature and old-growth forests. This Court concluded that Coos County has not alleged a failure to perform a nondiscretionary act or duty imposed by the ESA, whether premised on the petition process deadlines or on the agency's more general duty to act on its own determinations.
  • This case arises out of an incident at the Dadeland Mall, during which plaintiff had a confrontation with security personnel that ended with her arrest. The incident was precipitated by the presence of a small dog plaintiff was toting in a stroller while shopping with her mother and daughter. Plaintiff alleged discrimination in public accommodations under the ADA, and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment under § 1983. Defendants moved for summary judgment.The District Court denied the motion in part and granted the motion in part, finding that an issue of material fact existed as to whether the dog was a service animal; that the patron was precluded from bringing negligence claim premised on intentional torts; that officer's use of force in arresting patron was de minimis; and that the right to be free from officer's application of force was not clearly established.
  • Pursuant to a warrant, the police seized all un-cared for animals owned by a reptile distributor.   The distributor was told he could appeal the seizure, but must prepay the costs of boarding and caring for the animals pending the appeal.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor fo the county and the Court of Special Appeals reversed, holding the owner was not required by the county code to prepay the costs of care as a condition for an appeal.         

  • Plaintiff sued for mental suffering after she discovered a dead cat in the casket that was meant for her dead dog in an elaborate funeral for the dog.  In ruling that the plaintiff was entitled to damages beyond market value for this actionable tort, the court found that plaintiff Ms. Corso did suffer shock, mental anguish and despondency due to the wrongful destruction and loss of the dog's body.  The court specifically distinguished a pet from other sentimental inanimate objects as they are not capable of returning love and affection.

  • Despite an ordinance restricting the number of cats a person can own to three unless a permit was obtained, an officer decided not to enforce the ordinance against the appellant because she was helping with the feral-cat problem in the city and because “she was ... attempting to bring into compliance [her] animal rescue.” When the officer left his job, however, a neighbor complained and an investigation took place. The investigating officer noted everything in the house was covered in cat litter, there was no carpet in the home, and cat urine was on the living-room floor. The smell of cat urine and feces also sickened the officer to the point that he had to leave the house to get fresh air. The State filed a complaint alleging Appellant's violation of the ordinance. A jury found Appellant guilty of the offense as alleged in the complaint and assessed her punishment at $75 plus court costs. Appellant appealed from her conviction for violating a city ordinance regarding the number of animals that may be kept without a permit. In her first issue, the appellant asserted that her conviction violated the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the city “selectively enforced its purported ordinance that prohibits any person from having possession of more than three cats without a permit.” The court, however, found that there was no evidence before the trial court indicating that appellant was singled out for enforcement or that her selection for enforcement was based on anything other than a valid citizen complaint. In her second issue, the appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. The court, however, found that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that the appellant was in violation of the ordinance. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.
  • When owners of a "dangerous dog" attempted to enjoin such a classification, this court held the dangerous dog statute was unconstitutional.  Because dogs are subjects of property and ownership, the owner's deprivation of a dog entitles him to procedural due process.

  • The cases concerns personal injuries sustained by one of the plaintiffs (Lisa) while she and her husband were on a horseback riding tour on the Dahana Ranch on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Prior to taking the ride, they signed waivers. The Courbats do not dispute that they both signed the Ranch's waiver form; rather, they assert that the Ranch's practice of booking ride reservations through an activity company, receiving payment prior to the arrival of the guest, and then, upon the guest's arrival at the Ranch, requiring the guest to sign a liability waiver as a precondition to horseback riding is an unfair and deceptive business practice. The question whether a waiver requirement would be materially important in booking a horseback tour remains one for the trier of fact. Because a genuine issue of material fact, resolvable only by the trier of fact, remains in dispute, the grant of summary judgment on the claim was erroneous the court held.

  • USDA had suspended a kennel owner’s license for 90 days and imposed a fine on the owner for violating AWA regulations.   These violations included delivering dogs for transportation in commerce, that were under eight weeks old, failing to hold dogs for at least five days after acquiring them, and refusing APHIS inspections.   Owner claimed that such sanctions were excessive.   However, the court found that there was willful violation of the AWA, since inspections were refused.   Also, ignorance is not considered a defense, and although the owners claimed they did not know the age of the eight-week old puppies, they could have found out.   Thus, the sanction was appropriate.

  • A veterinarian's license was revoked by the Ohio Veterinarian Medical Licensing Board and the vet challenged the revocation of his license.  The trial court found the vet guilty of gross incompetence and he appealed claiming there was no definition of gross incompetence in the statute.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court holding no specific definition was required.

  • Defendant brought a motion after the USFWS denied his application to obtain eagle feathers for religious use where defendant failed to obtain certification from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that he was a member of a federally-recognized tribe.  The court held that this requirement is both contrary to the plain reading of that regulation and arbitrary and capricious.  For discussion on formerly recognized tribes and the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion.

  • In this § 1983 action, defendant kennel operator alleged taking of private property without just compensation, unreasonable search and seizure, and due process violations in relation to seizure of dogs, and that the local humane society conspired with government entities. On appeal of summary judgment for the defendants, the court found her claims against the county were barred, and that she failed to first exhaust her administrative remedies. The animal control officer was acting pursuant to a valid search warrant when she entered the property to seize the dogs, and, under an animal cruelty plea agreement, had authority to inspect Crawford's premises. With regard to the Humane Society defendants, the court found summary judgment proper because there was no evidence amounting to a civil conspiracy to seize the dogs for personal gain.

  • Creekstone Farms Premium Beef (Creekstone) sought to independently test their slaughtered cows so they could more safely provide meat to consumers. Creekstone requested testing kits from the USDA, the same kits that USDA inspectors use to test for BSE. The district court ruled that Creekstone could perform the tests.
  • Plaintiff, a supplier of beef products, brought an action against Defendant, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), after the USDA denied Plaintiff’s request to purchase Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) testing kits.   The United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit found that the USDA has authority under the Virus Serum Toxin Act (VSTA) to regulate the use of biological products, the USDA’s interpretation of VSTA allowing the USDA to deny an import permit based on the product’s intended use was not inconsistent with the regulation and was therefore entitled to deference by the Court, the USDA’s interpretation of the word “treatment” as including diagnostic activities was entitled to deference, and that   BSE testing is a diagnostic activity for purposes of VSTA.
  • The plaintiff’s dog was shot by a police officer while eyewitnesses claim that right before he fired, the dog was stationary or retreating at a distance of 10-20 feet from the officer and his police K9. The pet owner filed suit against both the individual police officer and the municipality, who both claimed immunity, which was granted at the trial court. On appeal, the court upheld the dismissal of the municipality based on the fact that official policy did “not authorize unconstitutional conduct or give officers unbridled discretion to shoot any animal they encounter, even if it is not threatening.” However, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision in regards to the officer’s immunity, holding that viewing the circumstances in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the killing was not necessarily reasonable to protect the officer’s safety or the safety of his police K9.
  • Plaintiff dog owners appeal the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of defendant Ted Hallows. Hallows. a Division of Wildlife Resources employee, shot the dogs after they got loose from plaintiffs' backyard. While the factual accounts of the shooting differed, Hallows asserted that he shot the dogs within the scope of his employment and was therefore protected under the Governmental Immunity Act. On appeal, the court first found that plaintiffs may maintain an action against Hallows for conduct outside the scope of his employment and this claim was not barred by their admitted failure to comply with the Immunity Act's notice of claim and statute of limitations requirements. Further, as to plaintiffs' claims that Hallows was not acting within his scope of employment when the shooting occurred, there was sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact.

  • "Necessary food" in the animal cruelty statute means food sufficient in both quantity and quality to sustain the animal in question.

  • Landlord brought an eviction proceeding against tenant with a history of mental illness for possession of a cat in his rental unit in violation of a no pets policy. Tenant alleged that he needed the cat to alleviate his "intense feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, which are daily manifestations of his mental illness." The court held that in order to prove that the pet  is necessary for the tenant to use and enjoy the dwelling, he must prove "that he has an emotional and psychological dependence on the cat which requires him to keep the cat in the apartment." The court denied the housing authority's motion for summary judgment, stating that there was a triable issue of fact as to whether the cat was necessary for the tenant to use and enjoy the dwelling.

  • The plaintiffs in this case were a class of visually-impaired persons who use guide dogs. Plaintiffs sought exemption from Hawaii's imposition of a 120-day quarantine on carnivorous animals entering the state (which necessarily included their guide dogs). Specifically, they contend Hawaii's quarantine, designed to prevent the importation of rabies, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),and their constitutional rights of travel, equal protection and substantive due process. On appeal of summary judgment, this Court held that without reasonable modifications to its quarantine requirement for the benefit of visually-impaired individuals who rely on guide dogs, Hawaii's quarantine requirement effectively prevents such persons from enjoying the benefits of state services and activities in violation of the ADA. The district court's issuance of summary judgment in favor of Hawaii, was reversed and the case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

  • The plaintiffs claimed that they purchased horse feed from the first respondent and that the feed was contaminated with monensin. The second respondent manufactured the feed. They claimed that as a result, one of their horses died and five others were permanently injured so that they could not be used for the desired purpose. After addressing several factual issues, the trial judge found for the plaintiffs in regards to the issue of negligence by the second respondent and proceeded to assess damages with regard to the economic value of the horses to the plaintiffs, the cost of replacement, loss of profits and maintenance.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity sought a temporary restraining order to enjoin the National Science Foundation from continuing its acoustical research in the Gulf of California. The scientists who conducted the acoustical research in the Gulf of California, which was an environmentally sensitive area, used an array of air guns to fire extremely high-energy acoustic bursts into the ocean. The sound from the air guns was as high as 263 decibels (dB) at the source. The government had acknowledged that 180 dB caused significant injury to marine mammals. The court found that the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), governed the activities of the scientists on the research vessel, and that any injury or harassment to marine mammals in the course of the research project in the Gulf of California, outside the territorial waters of Mexico, would violate the MMPA.

  • Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of defendants. The plaintiffs' 5-year-old child was bitten by the defendants' dog while the plaintiffs were visiting the defendants, who were also their neighbors. While jumping on the defendants' trampoline, the plaintiffs' child fell onto the defendants' dog who bit the child on the leg and would not let go for a few minutes.  The plaintiffs contended at trial that the defendants' knowledge that the dog had "Wobbler's Syndrome," a cranial neck instability that causes leg problems, somehow put the defendants on notice of the dog's vicious propensity. However, the court discarded plaintiffs' argument, finding that is no evidence that Butkus had bitten or attempted to bite anyone before the incident. Further, there was no reason for the defendants to believe that the dog's leg condition would make it more apt to attack humans.

  • Court uphold conviction for failure to provide food and water for horses. Even thought not the owner, he was the responsible party. Sentence of $3,000 fine and suspended 3 month was not excessive.

  • The applicants pleaded guilty to a number of charges under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) following the seizure of 113 live dogs, one cat, 488 rats, 73 mice, 12 guinea pigs and 11 birds from their premises due to unsanitary and inappropriate living conditions. The applicants claimed that RSPCA officers were acting ultra vires and that a stay preventing the RSCPA from parting with the animals should be effected. The applicants' argument failed.

  • In relevant part, the District of Columbia’s Freedom from Cruelty to Animal Protection Act allows any humane officer to take possession of any animal to protect the animal(s) from neglect or cruelty. Plaintiffs, all of whom had their dogs seized under the Act, brought a Motion for Partial Summary Disposition for a count alleging that the Act is unconstitutional on its face and as customarily enforced. The United States District Court, District of Columbia, denied Plaintiffs’ motion without prejudice, finding the parties’ briefs in connection to the motion insufficient to determine whether an issue exists as to the Act‘s constitutionality.

  • Pet owners sued after their pets were seized, detained, injured, or destroyed by the Humane Society. Pet owners’ attempts to certify a class failed because the claims were not typical. The members of the proposed class allegedly suffered a wide range of deprivations, were provided with different kinds of notice, and claimed distinct injuries. The class certification motion was also denied because the proposed members sought individualized monetary relief.

  • In this case, the plaintiffs are pet owners in the District of Columbia whose dogs were seized, detained, and damaged by the defendant-humane society without due process of the law. Plaintiffs brought an action against the District of Columbia, alleging that the District of Columbia's Freedom from Cruelty to Animal Protection Act, D.C.Code § 22-1001 et seq. is facially unconstitutional because it fails to provide animal owners with a meaningful right to contest the seizure, detention, and terms of release of their pets, prior to final action. However, the Act was amended in 2008 and the Court here asked the parties to submit supplemental briefing as to whether the amendments rendered the action by Plaintiffs moot. The Court found that Plaintiffs' facial challenge to the constitutionality of the Act has in fact been rendered moot by the 2008 Amendment.

  • Plaintiffs brought a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of companionship after defendant animal hospital performed unnecessary surgery based on a mix-up of x-rays.  The court denied the first claim, finding the defendant's conduct did not meet the "extreme and outrageous" conduct test.  With regard to plaintiff's claim for loss of a unique chattel and for loss of the dog's companionship and comfort, the court observed that, under Pennsylvania law, a dog is personal property, and, under no circumstances under the law of Pennsylvania, may there be recovery for loss of companionship due to the death of an animal.  

  • Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has brought this Bivens action seeking to hold government agents liable in their individual capacities for alleged constitutional violations under the AWA. Plaintiff lost his Class A license of a dealer under the AWA, due to failure to submit the required license fee and annual report.  The court held that, even construing plaintiff's allegations in the light most favorable to him, Mr. Daul appears merely to allege without proof that each of these defendants exceeded the scope of his authority.  Thus, plaintiff's conclusory allegations failed to show that any defendant violated any clearly established constitutional or statutory right.  The named defendants from the USDA were also granted both absolute and qualified immunity in the decision.

  • Defendant, Dr. Nico Dauphine, was convicted of attempted cruelty to animals, contrary to D.C.Code §§ 22–1001, –1803 (2001). After an investigation, Dr. Dauphine was captured on surveillance video placing bromadialone, an anticoagulant rodenticide, near the neighborhood cats' food bowls. On appeal, Dauphine contended that there was insufficient evidence that she committed the crime "knowingly" with malice. This court found the inclusion of the word "knowingly" did not change the statute from a general to specific intent crime, and simply shows that the actor had no justification for his or her actions. The government met its burden to prove that appellant attempted to commit the crime of animal cruelty.

  • On April 6, 1982, plaintiffs sued defendant Thomas Larson and others owned by defendant and others as tenants in common, for damages for negligence after plaintiffs' automobile collided with a horse.  On October 21, 1983, the trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment finding he owed no duty of care to plaintiffs as a landowner because his 1/2500th interest in the property was small and he exercised no control over the management of the property.  The Court of Appeal reversed , holding that tenants in common of real property who delegate the control and management of the property to a separate legal entity should not be immunized from liability to third parties in the case of common area torts.  The Court found that it was clear that considerations of public policy require that any departure from the common law rule of liability of individual owners of property in common cannot operate to the substantial detriment of third parties. 

  • Syllabus by the Court
    1. In order to establish a prima facie case against a bailee in an action sounding in contract, a bailor need prove only (1) the contract of bailment, (2) delivery of the bailed property to the bailee and (3) failure of the bailee to redeliver the bailed property undamaged at the termination of the bailment.
    2. In an action by a bailor against a bailee based upon a breach of the contract of bailment, where the bailor proves delivery of the bailed property and the failure of the bailee to redeliver upon legal demand therefor, a prima facie case of want of due care is thereby established, and the burden of going forward with the evidence shifts to the bailee to to explain his failure to redeliver. (Agricultural Ins. Co. v. Constantine, 144 Ohio St. 275, 58 N.E.2d 658, followed.)
  • Plaintiff hog slaughterers challenged the trial court (New York) judgment in favor of defendants, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and director, in an action seeking to enjoin defendants from arresting them for cruelty to animals pursuant to 1867 N.Y. Laws 375. The hog slaughterers asserted that they were innocent of the alleged statutory violations. The court affirmed the judgment in favor of defendants, denying the request of the hog slaughterers for an injunction to prevent defendants from arresting them for violating a statute prohibiting cruelty to animals.

  • Dog attack victim sued city and its animal control department, seeking damages for injuries he sustained from a dog attack in his neighborhood. The victim claimed that the city failed to enforce its animal control ordinance. The Supreme Court held that city and its animal control department had law enforcement immunity because the Tort Claims Act provided immunity to governmental entities for any loss due to failure to enforce a law.

  • In this California case, plaintiff noticed two women in the process of assisting an injured dog, which was owned by defendants, while driving down the road. Plaintiff, an experienced dog breeder and handler, assisted the women and was bitten by plaintiff's dog. The dog had not been vaccinated for rabies, and plaintiff was required to undergo antirabies treatment. Plaintiff sought appeal of the lower court's granting of summary judgment for the defendant. The Court of Appeal reversed. It held that defendants had the burden to establish that this was a case of primary assumption of the risk-where, by virtue of the nature of the activity and the parties' relationship to the activity, defendants owed no legal duty to plaintiff. The court held that the complaint alleged facts sufficient to impose a duty on the part of defendants, based on allegations that they owned and negligently controlled the dog that bit plaintiff.

  • The defendant in this case sought to dismiss plaintiff’s case, stating that the plaintiff claim did not have proper constitutional standing under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court denied defendant’s request and held that plaintiff did present sufficient evidence to establish standing under the ADA. In order to establish standing, the plaintiff needed to prove three elements: (1) actual or threatened injury, (2) causal connection between the injury and the challenged conduct, and (3) that a favorable court decision can redress the injury. The court determined that plaintiff did satisfy all three elements by showing that plaintiff’s disabled daughter was not allowed in defendant’s shopping mall with her service dog after the mall security guard was not properly informed of protocol regarding service dogs. Ultimately, the security guard mistakenly believed that the service dog needed documentation in order to enter the mall; however, the dog was properly identified as a certified service dog and should have been allowed into the mall. Defendant's motion to dismiss was denied.
  • Plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction to prevent defendant government official from lifting the embargo against tuna from Mexico's vessels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Plaintiffs alleged irreparable injury if three stocks of dolphins became extinct. The court found plaintiffs failed to produce evidence showing irreparable injury. 

  • The case concerns the delisting of the wolf from the Endangered Species list that occurred in March of 2008. Plaintiffs-Defenders of Wildlife moved for a preliminary injunction, asking the Court to reinstate ESA protections for the wolf. Specifically, plaintiffs argue that even though the Fish & Wildlife Service’s (“Service”) original environmental impact statement (EIS) on wolf reintroduction conditioned the delisting on a finding of genetic exchange between populations, and there is no evidence that such exchange has occurred. Further, the Service approved Wyoming's 2007 wolf management plan even though the Wyoming plan still contains provisions that the Service previously found inadequate. On the whole, the court found that plaintiffs demonstrated a possibility of irreparable harm and granted plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction. As a result, the Endangered Species Act protections were reinstated for the northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf pending final resolution of this matter on the merits.

  • Several wildlife organizations challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's designation and delisting of the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act.  This decision involved a motion for preliminary injunction.   The court found that the plaintiffs had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and the organizations and wolves would likely suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction.  Thus, the motion for preliminary injunction was granted.

  • Several wildlife organizations filed suit to challenge the FWS's Final Rule delisting the gray wolf Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment.  The case was put on hold pending the outcome of several other legal battles regarding the wolf's status on the Endangered Species List, during which gray wolf protections were reinstated.  Then, after Congress passed the 2011 fiscal year budget which contained a provision requiring the FWS to delist the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS, the court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

  • Environmental groups challenge implementations of the International Dolphin Conservation Program Act ("IDCPA") which amended the MMPA and revised the criteria for banning tuna imports.

  • In 2012, a rule transferred management of the gray wolf in Wyoming from federal control to state control. In the present case, plaintiffs Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Fund for Animals, Humane Society of the United States, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club, challenged the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in Wyoming. Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment, and maintained that the decision was arbitrary and capricious because Wyoming's regulatory mechanisms were inadequate to protect the species, the level of genetic exchange shown in the record did not warrant delisting, and the gray wolf was endangered within a significant portion of its range. Given the level of genetic exchange reflected in the record, the Court decided not to disturb the finding that the species had recovered, and it would not overturn the agency's determination that the species was not endangered or threatened within a significant portion of its range. However, the Court concluded that it was arbitrary and capricious for the Service to rely on the state's nonbinding promises to maintain a particular number of wolves when the availability of that specific numerical buffer was such a critical aspect of the delisting decision. The Court therefore granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in part, denied it in part, and remanded the matter back to the agency.
  • Ten non-profit groups sued the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) alleging that the FWS had not adequately explained why the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Southern Rockies were not a significant area of lynx habitat under the Endangered Species Act, as the FWS had previously been ordered by the court to do. Additionally, the non-profit groups claimed that the FWS had violated Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by passing regulations which made it easier for federal agencies to thin trees in lynx habitat under the Healthy Forest Initiative. The Court ordered the FWS to explain why the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Southern Rockies were not a significant area of lynx habitat, but found that the challenged regulations making it easier to thin trees in lynx habitat were permissible.

  • Plaintiffs, twelve conservation organizations and one individual involved in Lynx conservation efforts, challenge a final decision by the USFWS declaring the Lynx in the contiguous United States to be a "threatened," rather than "endangered," species under the Endangered Species Act.  Plaintiffs allege that the designation of the Lynx as threatened is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law," in violation of § 706(2)(A) of the Administrative Procedure Act and that the Service has violated the ESA by failing to designate "critical habitat" for the Lynx as required by that statute.  The Court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, finding that the FWS's conclusion that, "[c]ollectively, the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Southern Rockies do not constitute a significant portion of the range of the DPS," (three of the Lynx's four regions) were collectively not a significant portion of its range was counterintuitive and contrary to the plain meaning of the ESA phrase "significant portion of its range."  With regard to the FWS's failure to designate critical habitat, the excessive delays experienced by the FWS ran completely counter to the mandate of the ESA and were without proper justification. 

  • In February of 2008, Defendant, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (the "Service"), issued a final ruling to delist the Rocky Mountain gray wolf species, removing the ESA’s protections throughout the northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment ("DPS"), except in Wyoming. Twelve parties challenged the final ruling, arguing, foremost, that the decision violates the ESA by only partially protecting a listed population. The United States District Court for the District of Montana issued two findings: (1) the ESA does not allow the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list only part of a species as endangered, or to protect a listed distinct population segment only in part; and (2) the legislative history of the ESA does not support the Service’s interpretation of the phrase "significant portion of its range," but instead supports the long-standing view that the ESA does not allow a distinct population to be subdivided. Accordingly, the Service’s ruling to delist the Rocky Mountain gray wolf was vacated as invalid and Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment was granted.

  • The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's 2009 Final Rule unlawfully delisted wolves in Idaho and Montana from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Rule was vacated. The Court held that it had no authority to decide that it would be more equitable to ignore Congress' instruction on how an endangered species must be protected so that the wolves could be taken under the states' management plans. In addition, the Court held that it was inappropriate for the Court to approve a settlement at the expense of the Non–Settling Litigants' legal interests.

  • Plaintiffs challenged the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) "downlisting" of the gray wolf from endangered to threatened status through publication of its Final Rule.  The Final Rule delists the gray wolf in 14 southeastern states based on "listing error" because that region was not part of the gray wolf's historical range.  The court held that the FWS's extension of boundaries of only DPSs in which gray wolf populations had achieved recovery goals to encompass wolf's entire historical range was arbitrary and capricious.  FWS's downlisting of entire DPSs, without analyzing threats to the gray wolf outside of its current range, was inconsistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and thus was arbitrary and capricious. 

  • In this case, the Plaintiffs, WildEarth Guardians and the Rewilding Institute (Guardians) and the Defenders of Wildlife (Defenders) challenged procedures for wolf control actions as part of the Mexican wolf reintroduction project within the Blue Range Recovery Area (BRWRA) by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Plaintiffs claims centered on NEPA and ESA violations based on USFWS' adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2003(MOU) and issuance of Standard Operating Procedure 13 (SOP). USFWS filed motions to dismiss these claims for lack of jurisdiction because they argued that neither the MOU nor SOP 13 was a final agency action. Here, the rights and responsibilities of the interested parties were spelled out in the 2003 MOU and SOP 13, similar to if USFWS had issued an interpretive rule covering wolf control measures. Thus, the Court found that the 2003 MOU and SOP 13 "mark the consummation of the agency's decisionmaking process in respect to wolf control measures." The Court also found that the plaintiffs presented duplicate claims under the ESA and APA. USFWS's motion to dismiss was also denied as were the duplicative claims.

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    Several public interest groups brought actions challenging Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to transfer Clean Water Act (CWA) pollution permitting program for Arizona to that State.  Under federal law, a state may take over the Clean Water Act pollution permitting program in its state from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if it applies to do so and meets the applicable standards.  When deciding whether to transfer permitting authority, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued, and the EPA relied on, a Biological Opinion premised on the proposition that the EPA lacked the authority to take into account the impact of that decision on endangered species and their habitat.  The plaintiffs in this case challenge the EPA's transfer decision, particularly its reliance on the Biological Opinion's proposition regarding the EPA's limited authority.  The court held that the EPA did have the authority to consider jeopardy to listed species in making the transfer decision, and erred in determining otherwise. For that reason among others, the EPA's decision was arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court granted the petition and remanded to the EPA.

  • The breeder was in the business of buying, breeding, raising, and selling of exotic and wild animals. The town passed an ordinance making it unlawful to keep certain wild animals, and the breeder filed suit challenging the constitutionality of a local ordinance.  On appeal, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the town because: (1) the ordinance was not preempted by the Animal Welfare Act; (2) the ordinance was not an impermissible attempt to regulate interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause; and (3) the town did not deprive him of his property interest in his federal and state licenses without due process.

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