Animal Welfare Act: Related Cases
|Animal Legal Defense Fund v. United States Department of Agriculture||2017 WL 2352009 (N.D. Cal. May 31, 2017) (unpublished)||The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regularly posted documents about the enforcement activities of the Defendant, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, (“APHIS”). The documents were posted on two online databases. However, APHIS grew concerned that its Privacy Act system was insufficient. Therefore, the USDA blocked public access to the two databases so that it could review and ensure that the documents did not contain private information. However, the Plaintiffs, animal welfare non-profit organizations, asserted that by blocking access to the databases, the USDA breached its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act's (“FOIA”)'s reading-room provision. The Plaintiff’s also asserted that the USDA's decision to block access was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”). Plaintiff's motioned for a mandatory preliminary injunction. The United States District Court, N.D. California denied the Plaintiffs motion and held that the Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their FOIA claim because (1) there is no public remedy for violations of the reading room provision and they have not exhausted administrative remedies. (2) The Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their claim under the APA because FOIA provides the Plaintiffs an adequate alternative remedy. The Plaintiffs cannot establish that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction or that the balance of harms weighs in their favor in light of the on-going review and privacy interests asserted by the USDA.|
|907 Whitehead Street, Inc. v. Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture||701 F.3d 1345 (C.A.11 (Fla.))||
The appellant in this case, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida ("Museum"), appeals the lower court's determination that it is an animal exhibitor for purposes of the Animal Welfare Act ("AWA"). Appellant contends that while admission is charged for the Museum, it does not exhibit the Hemingway cats to the public for compensation; thus, the cats are not distributed through interstate commerce. The court, however, found that since the AWA itself is ambiguous on the question of whether "distribution" includes the fixed-site commercial display of animals, the USDA's broader interpretation of "distribution" and "exhibitor" are entitled to legal deference. While the court sympathized with the museum's frustrations, it affirmed the district court's findings of law and held that Museum is an AWA animal exhibitor subject to USDA regulation
|ALDF v. Glickman||154 F.3d 426 (1998)||
Animal welfare group and individual plaintiffs brought action against, inter alia, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), challenging its regulations concerning treatment of nonhuman primates on grounds that they violated USDA's statutory mandate under Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
|ALDF v. Glickman||204 F.3d 229(2000)||
Animal welfare organization and individual plaintiffs brought action against United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), challenging regulations promulgated under Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to promote psychological well-being of nonhuman primates kept by exhibitors and researchers. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) regulations were valid, and (2) animal welfare organization did not have standing to raise procedural injury. Case discussed in topic: US Animal Welfare Act
|Alternative Research & Dev. Found. v. Veneman||262 F.3d 406 (D.C. Cir. 2001)||
An animal rights foundation sought to have the definition of “animal” amended, so that birds, mice and rats used for research would not be excluded. USDA agreed to consider the animal rights foundation petition to have the definition amended, and agreed to do so in reasonable amount of time. The National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), a biomedical research group that used birds, mice and rats in its research, attempted to intervene and prevent USDA from considering the petition. However, NABR was prohibited from doing so because there was no showing that preventing intervention would result in its interests not being violated.
|Alternatives Research & Development Foundation v. Glickman||101 F.Supp.2d 7 (D.D.C.,2000)||
In this case, the plaintiffs, a non-profit organization, a private firm and an individual, alleged that the defendants, the USDA and APHIS violated the mandate of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by promulgating regulations that exclude birds, mice and rats from the definition of “animal” under the Act. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that all three plaintiffs lack standing to bring suit. Defendants also moved to dismiss on the grounds that the exclusion of the three species is within the agency's Congressionally delegated discretion, not subject to judicial review. The court denied defendant's motion, holding that based on Lujan , defendants challenge to standing failed. Further, the AWA does not grant the USDA "unreviewable discretion" to determine what animals are covered under the AWA.
|Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y et. al. v. USDA et. al.||946 F.3d 615 (D.C. Cir. 2020)||Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) in 1966 to insure that animals intended for use in research facilities, for exhibition purposes, or for use as pets were provided humane care and treatment. Initially the definition of the word “animal” excluded birds according to the USDA. In 2002, Congress amended the AWA to make it known that birds were to be protected as well. The USDA promised to publish a proposed rule for public comment once it determined how to best regulate birds and adopt appropriate standards. Eighteen years later, the USDA has yet to issue any standards regarding birds. The American Anti-Vivisection Society and the Avian Welfare Coalition sued to compel the USDA to either issue bird-specific standards or to apply its general standards to birds. These animal-rights groups argued that the USDA’s utter failure to promulgate any bird specific standards amounted to arbitrary and capricious agency action. Their second argument was that USDA unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed action. The district court dismissed their complaint for failure to state a claim to which the animal-rights groups appealed. The Court of Appeals found that the AWA, when it was amended in 2002, required the USDA to issue standards governing the humane treatment, not of animals generally, but of animals as a defined category of creatures including birds not bred for use in research. The USDA failed to take “discrete action” issuing standards to protect birds that the AWA requires it to take. The Court ultimately affirmed the district court as to the arbitrary and capricious claim but reversed and remanded as to the unreasonable delay claim to determine whether the issuance of bird-specific standards has been unreasonably delayed.|
|Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y v. United States Dept. of Agric.||--- F.Supp.3d ----, 2018 WL 6448635 (D.D.C. Dec. 10, 2018).||The American Anti-Vivisection Society and the Avian Welfare Coalition sued the Department of Agriculture and its Secretary alleging that the Department's failure to promulgate bird-specific regulations is unreasonable, unlawful, and arbitrary and capricious in violation of the APA. The Plaintiffs sought court-ordered deadlines by which the Department must propose such rules. The Department moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's claims arguing that the Plaintiffs lack standing to sue, that it is not required by law to promulgate regulations for birds, and that it has not taken a final action reviewable by the court. The District Court ultimately held that, although the Plaintiffs have standing to sue, both of their claims fail. The Department is not required by the Animal Welfare Act to issue avian-specific standards; rather, it must to issue welfare standards that are generally applicable to animals. Secondly, although the Department has not taken any action to develop avian-specific standards, that does not mean that will not do so in the future. The District Court granted the department's motion to dismiss.|
|Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture||789 F.3d 1206 (11th Cir. 2015)||Animal Advocacy Organizations argued the district court erred in ruling United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s decision to renew an exhibitor’s license did not violate the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). According to the organizations, the USDA may not renew a license when USDA knows an exhibitor is noncompliant with any animal welfare standards on the anniversary of the day USDA originally issued the license. The 11th Circuit, however, found it had subject matter jurisdiction to review the organizations' challenge to the renewal under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that the USDA's interpretation—which did not condition renewal on compliance with animal welfare standards on the anniversary of the license issuance date—was a reasonable one. The district court’s decision was therefore affirmed.|
|Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Veneman||490 F.3d 725 (9th Cir. 2007)||
Plaintiffs, who include the Animal Legal Defense Fund ("ALDF"), the Animal Welfare Institute ("AWI"), and three individuals, challenged the United States Department of Agriculture's ("USDA") decision not to adopt a Draft Policy that would have provided guidance to zoos, research facilities, and other regulated entities in how to ensure the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates in order to comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act ("AWA"). The district court granted USDA's motion to dismiss, to which the ALDF timely appealed. Over a vigorous dissent, an appeals court panel reversed the district court's decision. After a sua sponte call, however, a majority of active judges voted to rehear the case en banc. Yet, before the rehearing occurred, the parties had reached a settlement and had agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice provided that the panel's opinion and judgment were vacated. The majority of the en banc panel agreed to vacate the panel's opinion and judgment with prejudice, but Judge Thomas filed the dissenting opinion.
|Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Veneman||469 F.3d 826 (9th Cir.(Cal.), 2006)||
Plaintiffs, who include the Animal Legal Defense Fund ("ALDF"), the Animal Welfare Institute ("AWI"), and three individuals, challenged the United States Department of Agriculture's ("USDA") decision not to adopt a Draft Policy that would have provided guidance to zoos, research facilities, and other regulated entities in how to ensure the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates in order to comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act ("AWA"). Plaintiffs challenge the decision not to adopt the Draft Policy under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") as arbitrary and capricious. The district court did not reach the merits of plaintiffs' suit because it determined that the USDA's decision did not constitute reviewable final agency action. This court disagreed, finding that at least one of the plaintiffs has standing under Article III of the Constitution. Further, the court concluded that the district court has authority under the APA to review the USDA's decision not to adopt the Draft Policy. Opinion Vacated on Rehearing en Banc by Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Veneman , 490 F.3d 725 (9th Cir., 2007).
|Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Espy||23 F.3d 496 (C.A.D.C.,1994)||
In this case, animal welfare groups and two individuals challenged the regulation promulgated by Department of Agriculture that failed to include birds, rats, and mice as “animals” within meaning of Federal Laboratory Animal Welfare Act (FLAWA). The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, denied defendant's motion to dismiss, and subsequently granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. Defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals held that plaintiffs could not demonstrate both constitutional standing to sue and statutory right to judicial review under the APA. The Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case with directions to dismiss.
|Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Perdue||--- F.3d ----, 2017 WL 4320804 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 29, 2017)||The Secretary of Agriculture is directed by the Animal Welfare Act to promulgate regulations governing minimum animal housing and care standards and to issue licenses for animal exhibitionists only if they adhere to these standards. The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Department of Agriculture for renewing Tom and Pamela Sellner's Cricket Hollow Zoo in Iowa despite multiple violations of the animal welfare requirements set forth in the Act. In fact, the USDA had filed an administrative complaint against the Sellners and commenced a formal investigation in 2015 According to the court, the USDA has established a "bifurcated" approach to licensing, where initial applicants must comply with regulations and pass an agency compliance inspection, while license renewal applicants must only pay a fee and agree to continue to comply with regulations. After the District Court's dismissal of the case, the Court of Appeals affirmed in part but remanded back to the District Court the question whether the USDA's reliance on self-certification was an arbitrary and capricious action with instructions to get further explanation from the agency. As stated by the court, "On remand, the agency must, at a minimum, explain how its reliance on the self-certification scheme in this allegedly “smoking gun” case did not constitute arbitrary and capricious action."|
|Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Thomas J. Vilsack||Slip Copy, 2017 WL 627379 (D.D.C., 2017)||
In this case, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sought to intervene on a proceeding dealing with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a family owned-zoo in Iowa for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The USDA was seeking enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act against the Iowa zoo and the ALDF sought to intervene because it has long criticized the zoo's care and handling of its animals. The ALDF was prevented from intervening by the administrative law judge (ALJ) that was presiding over the matter. The ALJ did not allow the ALDF to intervene in the matter on the basis that the “ALDF’s stated interests were beyond the scope of the proceeding.” The ALDF filed suit challenging this decision according to Section 555(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which allows “interested persons” to participate in agency proceedings “so far as the orderly conduct of the public business permits.” The court found that the ALDF should have been allowed to intervene in the proceeding according to 555(b) because the ALDF’s "demonstrated interest in the welfare of the zoo's animals falls squarely within the scope of the USDA enforcement proceeding.” The court also found that there was no evidence to suggest that having ALDF intervene would "impede the orderly conduct of the public business permits.” As a result, the court held in favor of the ALDF’s motion for summary judgment and remanded the case back the case back to USDA for further consideration of ALDF's motion to Intervene.
|Animal Protection Institute of America v. Mosbacher||799 F.Supp 173 (D.C. 1992)||
Wildlife protection organizations, including the API, brought action against Secretary of Commerce to challenge permits for importing false killer whales and belugas for public display. Zoo association and aquarium seeking the whales intervened. The District Court the whale watchers had standing and the permits were not abuse of discretion.
|Associated Dog Clubs of New YorkState, Inc. v. Vilsack||75 F.Supp.3d 83(D.D.C. 2014)||With the increase of sales over the Internet, the Department of Agriculture, through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”), issued a new rule that redefined “retail pet store” to include online pet stores. Several breeders argued that the agency exceeded its statutory authority in issuing the new rule. The Secretary for the Department of Agriculture moved for summary judgment. Since APHIS acted within its authority in promulgating the rule and otherwise complied with the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, the Court granted summary judgment for the agency.|
|Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Inc. v. Rhodes||842 F.3d 1280 (D.C. Cir. 2016)||
Plaintiff, Big Cats of Serenity Springs is a Colorado-based non-profit that provides housing, food, and veterinary care for exotic animals. The facility is regulated by the Defendant, United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Three APHIS inspectors accompanied by sheriff's deputies broke into the Big Cats facility to perform an unannounced inspection of two tiger cubs. But at the time the inspectors entered the facility, the cubs were at a veterinarian's office receiving treatment. Big Cats sued the APHIS inspectors for the unauthorized entry and asserted that the entry was an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment and sought declaratory judgment and compensatory and punitive damages. The United States District Court for the District of Colorado, granted APHIS's motion to dismiss in part and denied in part. APHIS appealed. The Court of Appeals, held that: (1) Big Cats could assert a Bivens claim; (2) Big Cats adequately alleged that the inspectors violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; and (3) Big Cats had clearly-established the constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches or seizures, thus weighing against the inspectors' claim of qualified immunity; but (4) the inspectors did not act under the color of state law, as required for § 1983 liability. The Court of Appeals reasoned that Big Cats' complaint stated a claim for relief under Bivens because No APHIS inspector would reasonably have believed unauthorized forcible entry of the Big Cats facility was permissible. Also, the Court reasoned that when the agents cut the locks to conduct a non-emergency inspection without a warrant, the federal officials did not act under color of state law, and the district court erred in denying the government's motion to dismiss the § 1983 claim. Therefore, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's order denying the government's motion to dismiss the Bivens claim and reversed the trial court's order denying the government's motion to dismiss the § 1983 claim.
|Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Inc. v. Vilsack||--- F.Supp.3d ----, 2015 WL 1432069 (D. Colo. 2015)||In an amended complaint, Plaintiffs asserted four claims against Defendants relating to a May 7, 2013 United States Department of Agriculture inspection of Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Inc. The claims included a Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against the Inspector Defendants “because they acted under color of state law when they induced the deputies to cut the chains and enter the premises;” a declaratory judgment “declaring that [Defendant] Thompson inappropriately overrode the medical advice of [Plaintiff] Big Cats' veterinarians and declaring that, in the future, the USDA cannot force [Plaintiff] Sculac to choose between following the medical advice of his veterinarians and the mandates of a USDA inspector;” and a declaratory judgment that the USDA must follow its own regulations and that it cannot conduct a warrantless search of the Big Cats facility outside of ‘normal business hours' solely because an inspector ‘want [s] to’ or because an inspector subjectively ‘believe[s][it] necessary to determine the welfare status of the animals....' ” In addition to declaratory relief, Plaintiffs also sought compensatory and punitive damages, costs, expenses, and prejudgment interest. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. US Magistrate Judge issued a recommendation that, to the extent the Motion argued that the declaratory judgment claims should be dismissed because Plaintiffs lack standing, the Motion be granted in part and denied in part and that the declaratory judgment claims asserted by Plaintiffs Nick Sculac, Julie Walker, and Jules Investment, Inc. be dismissed without prejudice. In all other aspects, the Magistrate recommended that the Motion be denied. A District Court judge approved and adopted these recommendations and denied defendant’s objections to the recommendations.|
|Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Labs, Inc. v. Board of Trustees of State University of New York||92 NY2d 357 (NY, 1998)||
Citizens wanted access to University records dealing with biomedical research using cats and dogs. These records were created, as required by federal Law, but access to the records was requested under state law. According to the New York Freedom of Information Act (FOIL), documents held by an “agency” should be disclosed. The lower Appellate Division held that s ince the University did not fall under the definition of “agency" under New York Public Officers Law, it was not required to turn over such documents. The New York Court of Appeals, however, found that the Appellate Division's rationale for denying FOIL disclosure was inconsistent with precedent, and that the legislative goal behind FOIL of was liberal disclosure, limited only by narrowly circumscribed specific statutory exemptions. Thus, in reversing the Appellate Division's decision, the Court of Appeals held that the records were subject to disclosure.
|Cox v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture||925 F.2d 1102 (8th Cir. 1991)||
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.
|Daul v. Meckus||897 F. Supp 606 (D.C. 1995)||
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.
|Dehart v. Town of Austin||39 F.3d 718 (7th Cir. 1994)||
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.
|Diercks v. Wisconsin||2006 WL 3761333 (E.D. Wis. 2006)||
An owner of a greyhound kennel was suspected of giving her dogs illegal steroids because an informant told the government agency this was happening. The particular steroid used was impossible to detect using urine samples, so the government agency, without a warrant, installed covert video cameras in the kennel and that way determined that the owner was injecting her dogs. The owner claimed this violated her Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights, and the court agreed; however, the agency actors were not liable because the state of the law on this issue was not clear and it was reasonable for them to think they could legally install the video surveillance system.
|Doris Day Animal League v. Veneman||315 F.3d 297 (D.C. Cir. 2003)||Animal rights group brought action challenging validity of regulation exempting breeders who sell dogs from their residences from licensure under Animal Welfare Act. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, J., held that regulation was invalid, and appeal was taken. The Court of Appeals, Randolph, Circuit Judge, held that regulation was reasonable interpretation of Congressional intent.|
|E. LEE COX AND BECKY COX, D/B/A PIXY PALS KENNEL, PETITIONERS v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, RESPONDENT||50 Agric. Dec. 14 (1991)||
Lee and Becky Cox, owners of Pixy Pals Kennel, petitioned for review of a decision of the Department of Agriculture suspending their license for ninety days, imposing a $12,000 civil fine, and ordering the Coxes to cease and desist from specified violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The Coxes claim that (1) the suspension violated s 558(c) of the Administrative Procedure Act because there was insufficient evidence to support the Department's finding that their violations of the Animal Welfare Act were willful; (2) they were unconstitutionally penalized for exercising their first amendment rights; and (3) the sanctions imposed on them were excessive. In affirming the USDA decision, the Eighth Circuit held that the definition of "willfulness" was not called into question; rather the Department had presented substantial evidence to demonstrate willfulness. Further, since petitioners' first amendment claim concerned the Department's "motivations," the court held that proof of motivation is a question of fact rather than law, not subject to de novo review. The sanction imposed by the Department, although severe, was not excessive given the size of petitioners' business and the severity of the violations.
|Eckhart v. Department of Agriculture||8 A.3d 401(Pa. Commw. Ct., 2010)||
A dog kennel operator acquired 30 dogs while under a revised notice to cease and desist operating a kennel and from buying dogs. The Commonwealth Court affirmed fines imposed by the Department of Agriculture, holding that the fines for violation of the dog law were not excessive or unreasonable; that fines for failure to comply with conditions of the revised notice were not unconstitutionally excessive or unreasonable; and that enforcement of orders by Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement pending appeal were not staid by the doctrine of equitable estoppel.
|Gray v. RSPCA|| EWHC 500 (Admin)||Mr Gray appealed against the police seizure of 115 horses from his horse trading premises, pursuant to section 18 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Gray had been convicted of numerous counts of cruelty, specifically under sections 4 and 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Mr Gray argued that an offence under sections 4 and 9 required either actual knowledge or a form of constructive knowledge that the animal was showing signs of unnecessary suffering, and that negligence was not sufficient. It was held that the plain effect of section 4(1) of the Act is to impose criminal liability for unnecessary suffering caused to an animal either by an act or omission which the person responsible knew would, or was likely to, cause unnecessary suffering, or by a negligent act or omission. Further, it was held that section 9(1) of the Act sets a purely objective standard of care which a person responsible for an animal is required to provide.|
|Hansen v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture||221 F.3d 1342 (8th Cir. 2000)||Judie Hansen petitions for review of a final decision of the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. Because the 8th Circuit has no jurisdiction over the matter, the petition is dismissed.|
|Haviland v. Butz||543 F.2d 169 (D.C. Cir. 1976)||
This case addresses whether the Secretary of Agriculture intended to include “animal acts” under the AWA. Animal acts are any performance of animals where such animals are trained to perform some behavior or action or are part of a show, performance, or exhibition. Defendant presented an animal act with dogs and ponies to paying audiences and occasionally appeared on commercial television. Defendant asserted that he did not “exhibit” animals simply by showing dogs and ponies and argued that the Secretary unconstitutionally added “animal acts” to the AWA. The court held that the inclusion of “animal acts” was authorized as“[t]he words ‘includes’ and ‘such as’ [in the AWA] point convincingly to the conclusion that the listing of types of exhibitions in the statutory text was intended to be but partial and illustrative.”
|Hawthorn Corp. v. U.S.||98 F.Supp.3d 1226 (M.D. Fla., 2015)||Plaintiff's complaint was based on government employees’ duty to exercise reasonable care in the execution of their official duties. Government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court found the action was barred by three exceptions to the Federal Torts Claims Act: the misrepresentation exception, the discretionary exception, and the interference with contracts exception. Government motion was granted.|
|Hemingway Home and Museum v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture||2006 WL 3747343 (S.D. Fla.)||
The plaintiff lived in Hemmingway's old property, a museum, with 53 polydactyl cats (cats having more than the usual number of toes). The United States Department of Agriculture investigated and said that the plaintiff needed to get an exhibitor's license to show the cats, but that was not possible unless the cats were enclosed. Plaintiff sued the government in order to avoid the $200 per cat per day fines assessed, but the court held that the government has sovereign immunity from being sued.
|Hernandez-Gotay v. United States||985 F.3d 71 (1st Cir. Jan. 14, 2021)||Plaintiffs filed suit to enjoin the enforcement and challenge the constitutionality of Section 12616 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“Section 12616”), which bans the “sponsor[ship]” and “exhibit[ion]” of cockfighting matches in Puerto Rico. The district court upheld Section 12616 as a valid exercise of Congress's Commerce Clause power. On appeal here, the court first determined whether the plaintiffs had sufficient standing to challenge the law. It concluded that plaintiff Ángel Manuel Ortiz-Díaz, the owner of two cockfighting venues and a breeder and owner of more than 200 gamecocks, has standing to challenge Section 12616. Ortiz faces a credible threat of prosecution under Section 12616 because he regularly sponsors and exhibits cockfighting matches. Finding standing, the court considered plaintiffs' claim that Congress exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause in enacting Section 12616. The court found that cockfighting is an activity that substantially affects interstate commerce and Congress passing Section 12616 was a legitimate exercise of Commerce Clause power. Finally, plaintiffs contend that Section 12616 infringes on their First Amendment freedoms of speech and association. In rejecting this argument, the court held that plaintiffs failed to identify the necessary "expressive element" in cockfighting activities that would render it subject to First Amendment protections and, even if they made such a showing, Section 12616 is a permissible restraint on such speech. Finally, nothing in Section 12616 infringes on the associational right to assemble since it does not prevent individuals from gathering to express their views on cockfighting. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.|
|Hoctor v. Dept of Agriculture||82 F.3d 165 (7th Cir. 1996)||
A dealer raised exotic animals (mainly big cats), and USDA ordered that the dangerous ones be fenced, with fencing being a minimum of eight-feet high. However, the animal housing standard only required that the fencing be sturdy enough to prevent the animals from escaping. The eight-foot rule established by USDA was considered arbitrary, and it did not have to be followed.
|Horton v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture||559 Fed.Appx. 527 (6th Cir. 2014)||Petitioner sold dogs and puppies without an Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) dealer license. An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found the Petitioner violated the AWA and issued a cease and desist order to prevent further violations of the Act and ordered Petitioner to pay $14,430 in civil penalties. Both Petitioner and Respondent, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”), appealed the ALJ's decision to a judicial officer (“JO”), acting for the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, who increased the civil penalties amount from $14,430 to $191,200. Petitioner appealed this decision, alleging that (1) the ALJ and JO erred by failing to determine the willfulness of his actions, and (2) the JO improperly applied the Department's criteria for assessing civil penalties. The 6th Circuit found that since the AWA did not contain a willfulness requirement, the JO's failure to make a willfulness determination was not an abuse of discretion. Further, the 6th Circuit held that the JO's factual findings regarding Petitioner's dog sales were supported by substantial evidence. Lastly, the 6th Circuit held the size of the civil penalty assessed against Petitioner was warranted by law. The court denied the petition for review and affirmed the Secretary's Decision and Order.|
|Humane Society of the United States v. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service||2019 WL 2342949 (D.D.C. June 3, 2019)||The Humane Society submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. One was for site-inspection reports and the other was for inspection records for specific animal dealers and exhibitors. The Service released nine pages of inspection records in full but redacted information from the other 127 pages citing FOIA exemptions 6 and 7 that deal with privacy concerns. The Humane Society alleged that the redactions were improper and both parties filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. The Court found that the bulk of the Service’s redactions were improper under exemption 6 because the information did not implicate a licensee’s personal privacy interests. Exemption 6 was meant to protect individuals from public disclosure of intimate details of their lives. Details about a business’ compliance with regulations and statutes does not relate to intimate personal details. It only relates to business activities. Information about business judgments and relationships do not qualify for redaction. However, a substantial privacy interest is anything greater than a de minimus privacy interest and the licensees and third-parties had more than a de minimus privacy interest in their names, addresses, and contact information. The licensees were also homestead businesses meaning that the location of their business also served as their residence. The Court weighed the privacy interest in non-disclosure against the public interest in the release of the records and ultimately found that although the licensees and third parties had a substantial privacy interest in their names, addresses, and contact information, they only had a de minimus privacy interest in the other information that they withheld from the reports. If no significant privacy interest is implicated, FOIA demands disclosure. The service was required to disclose all reasonably segregable portions of the records that do not include identifying information. The Court found the Humane Society’s argument unpersuasive that releasing the addresses of the licensees would serve the public interest. The Service properly withheld the licensees’ addresses and names of third-party veterinarians. Exemption 7 allows for agencies to withhold information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of those law enforcement records could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Humane Society argued that inspection reports are not compiled for law enforcement purposes because the existence of such a report does not, on its face, reveal that there is any particular enforcement or investigatory action occurring. The Court found that the inspection records relate to the Service’s responsibility to enforce the AWA and ensure that licensees are in compliance, therefore, there was a nexus between the reports and the Service’s law enforcement duties. The Court also conducted the same balancing test that they did with exemption 6 and held that the Service releasing information other than the licensees’ addresses and third parties’ names could not reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Service properly withheld the licensees’ addresses and contact information and despite the Service’s improper withholding of dates, inspection narratives, animal inventories, etc., the Court found that they had otherwise met their burden of releasing all reasonably segregable information. Both the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment were granted in part and denied in part.|
|Humane Society of U.S. v. U.S. Postal Service||609 F.Supp.2d 85 (D.D.C.,2009)||
The question in this case centers on whether a response from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) qualifies as a "final agency action" for purposes of judicial reviewability under the APA. At issue is the HSUS's petition to the USPS to declare a monthly periodical entitled The Feathered Warriror unmailable under the AWA. While the USPS has been broadly exempted from judicial review under the APA, there are exceptions, which include “proceedings concerning the mailability of matter." While the term "proceedings" is largely undefined in the Act, the Court held that it would not limit the term to the post hoc meaning ascribed by the USPS that limits it to only "formal" proceedings. Despite finding that the actions taken by the USPS were indeed judicially reviewable, the court remanded the matter because, after the Humane Society initiated this lawsuit, Congress amended § 2156 of the Animal Welfare Act again, further defining issue of nonmailable animal fighting material.
|In Defense of Animals v. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo||785 F.Supp. 100 (N.D. Ohio, 1991)||
This case involves a challenge by several organizations to the proposed move of Timmy, a lowland gorilla, from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to the Bronx Zoo in New York for the purposes of mating Timmy with female gorillas at the Bronx Zoo. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on October 25, 1991, in the Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County, and moved for a temporary restraining order. The District Court held that the claim was preempted under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the ESA. Further, the court held that plaintiffs had no private cause of action under the AWA.
|In Defense of Animals v. National Institutes of Health||527 F.Supp.2d 23 (D.D.C., 2007)||
This FOIA case was brought against the National Institutes of Health ("NIH") by In Defense of Animals (“IDA”) seeking information related to approximately 260 chimpanzees located as the Alamogordo Primate Facility (“APF”) in New Mexico. Before the court now is NIH's Motion for Partial Reconsideration as to the release of records. This Court rejected NIH’s arguments that the records are not “agency records” because they belong to NIH's contractor, Charles River Laboratories, Inc. (“CRL”), a publicly held animal research company. Also, the Court was equally unconvinced that the information requested here is “essentially a blueprint of the APF facility,” and that release of such information presents a security risk to the facility. This Order was Superseded by In Defense of Animals v. National Institutes of Health , 543 F.Supp.2d 70 (D.D.C., 2008).
|IN RE MARSHALL RESEARCH ANIMALS, INC.||39 Agric. Dec. 359 (1980)||
In this order, the court held that Respondent shall cease and desist from transporting live animals in primary enclosures which are not sufficiently large to insure that each animal contained therein has sufficient space to turn about freely in a standing position using normal body movement, to stand and sit erect, and to lie in a natural position, which spatial requirements are contained in the regulations issued pursuant to the Act. (9 CFR 3.12(c)).
|IN RE: ALEX PASTERNAK||52 Agric. Dec. 180 (1993)||
The court concluded that respondent had committed more than thirty violations of the AWA for his abuse of his exhibition animals (mainly leopards). Among the violations were a failure to maintain required records, failure to provide veterinary care, failure to comply with standards affecting all aspects of cat care, and physically abusing animals. As a result, respondent's license was suspended, a civil penalty was imposed and an order was issued directing respondent to cease and desist from violating the Act. Although respondent sought the protection of the bankruptcy code, the automatic stay of proceedings provided by bankruptcy law does not prevent the Department from obtaining corrective action to preserve animal welfare.
|In re: BIG BEAR FARM, INC., ANDREW BURR, AND CAROL BURR||55 Agric. Dec. 107 (1996)||Only requirement of 7 USCS § 2149(a), which authorizes suspension or revocation of license of exhibitor if exhibitor has violated or is violating any provision of Animal Welfare Act (7 USCS §§ 2131 et seq.) or any regulation or standard promulgated by Secretary under Act, is that at least one of violations be willful; existence of additional violations not shown to be willful does nothing to take away Secretary's authority to suspend or revoke exhibitor's license.|
|IN RE: CECIL BROWNING, DELORES BROWNING AND DARREN BROWNING, d/b/a ALLIGATORLAND SAFARI ZOO, INC.||52 Agric. Dec. 129 (1993)||
This is a disciplinary proceeding under the Animal Welfare Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. s 2131 et seq.), and the regulations and standards issued thereunder (9 C.F.R. s 1.1 et seq.). On November 20, 1992, Administrative Law Judge Edwin S. Bernstein (ALJ) issued an Initial Decision and Order assessing a civil penalty of $2,000, and suspending Respondents' license for 30 days, and thereafter until they are in full compliance with the Act, regulations and standards, because Respondents failed to keep their primary enclosures sanitary and in suitable condition, failed to maintain complete records, failed to keep food and watering receptacles clean, failed to handle wastes properly, failed to provide adequate veterinarian care, and failed to utilize sufficient personnel to maintain proper husbandry practices. (Respondents were licensed exhibitors of captive wildlife, including deer, non-human primates, and bears, among other animals.) The court also found the sanctions were not too severe, considering the willfullness of the violations.
|IN RE: CRAIG LESSER AND MARILYN LESSER||52 Agric. Dec. 155 (1993)||
Respondents, Craig and Marilyn Lesser, were respectively, president and vice-president of LSR Industries, a Wisconsin corporation that was in the business of breeding and selling rabbits to research institutions, and licensed dealers under the Animal Welfare Act. The ALJ issued an Initial Decision and Order assessing civil penalties of $9,250, and suspending Respondents' license for 30 days, after respondents interfered with APHIS inspections of their facilities and failed to maintain their facilities in accordance with the standards involving housing, sanitation, cleaning, ventilation, storage of food and bedding, and lighting. However, the Judicial Officer increased the civil penalties of $9,250 assessed by the ALJ by $500, because of sanitation and waste violations, for which the ALJ assessed no civil penalties. Since Respondents did not raise any issue before the ALJ as to whether warrantless inspections are unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, they cannot raise the issue on appeal. The Fourth Amendment is not violated by warrantless inspections under this regulatory statute.
|In re: DAVID M. ZIMMERMAN||56 Agric. Dec. 433 (1997)||Purpose of sanctions is to deter respondent, as well as others, from committing same or similar violations.|
|In re: DAVID M. ZIMMERMAN||57 Agric. Dec. 1038 (1998)||Ongoing pattern of violations establishes "history of previous violations" for purposes of 7 USCS § 2149(b), and it is appropriate to view evidence as establishing prior violations in determining appropriate level of civil penalty.|
|In re: DELTA AIR LINES, INC.||53 Agric. Dec. 1076 (1994)||The Judicial Officer affirmed the Decision by Chief Judge Palmer (Chief ALJ) assessing civil penalties of $140,000, with $60,000 held in abeyance for 1 year, for transporting 108 dogs and cats in a cargo space that was without sufficient air, causing the death of 32 dogs. The Order also directs Respondent to cease and desist from violating the Act, regulations and standards, and, in particular, to cease and desist from failing to ensure that dogs and cats have a supply of air sufficient for normal breathing. On appeal, the court held that when regulated entity fails to comply with Act, regulations or standards, there is separate violation for each animal consequently harmed or placed in danger.|
|IN RE: DONALD STUMBO, D/B/A STUMBO FARMS||43 Agric. Dec. 1079 (U.S.D.A.)||
Imposition of $4,000 civil penalty was appropriate under 7 USCS § 2149(b) where respondent committed numerous, serious violations of Animal Welfare Act, respondent handled large number of animals, and violations continued after respondent was advised in writing of violations and given opportunity to correct them.
|IN RE: E. LEE COX AND BECKY COX, D/B/A PIXY PALS KENNEL||49 Agric. Dec. 115 (1990)||
This is a disciplinary proceeding under the Animal Welfare Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. ss 2131- 2156). On April 20, 1989, Administrative Law Judge Edwin S. Bernstein (ALJ) issued an initial Decision and Order suspending respondents' license for 90 days, and thereafter until respondents demonstrate compliance with the Act and regulations, assessing a civil penalty of $12,000, and directing respondents to cease and desist from failing to retain possession and control of all dogs until they are at least 8 weeks of age and have been weaned, failing to hold dogs for not less than 5 business days after acquisition, failing to keep and maintain proper records, and failing to allow inspection of respondents' facility and records. Dealers and other regulated persons are required to grant access to their records during ordinary business hours, without any advance notice from Department.
|IN RE: E. LEE COX AND BECKY COX, D/B/A PIXY PALS KENNEL||50 Agric. Dec. 1662 (1991)||
On March 14, 1990, the civil penalty and suspension provisions of the order issued in this case on January 29, 1990, 49 Agric.Dec. 115, were stayed pending the outcome of proceedings for judicial review. This order is issued lifting the stay. The civil penalty of $12,000 assessed against the respondents shall be paid no later than the 90th day after service of this order.
|IN RE: ERVIN STEBANE||47 Agric. Dec. 1264 (1988)||Licensed dealer who engaged in recurring pattern of trivial noncompliance with housekeeping requirements, failed to provide records on two occasions and failed to permit inspection on one occasion, is properly sanctioned with 20-day license suspension, $1500 civil penalty, and cease and desist order.|