Federal Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
PetConnect Rescue, Inc. v. Salinas PetConnect Rescue, Inc., Lucky Pup Dog Rescue.com and Sarah Gonzalez (“Plaintiffs”) alleged that the Defendants fraudulently represented dogs that the Defendants sold as rescue animals in order to circumvent California law prohibiting the sale of non-rescue dogs in pet stores. On April 6, 2020, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint against the Defendants alleging trademark infringement and dilution under the Lanham Act, unfair business practices under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) and violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”), fraud, and accounting. Several Defendant filed motions to dismiss and to strike sections of the amended complaint. The United States District Court for the Southern District of California found that Plaintiff PetConnect alleged a cognizable injury in fact in that the Defendants’ use of an infringing mark harmed Plaintiff PetConnect Rescue’s reputation and caused consumer confusion. The Defendants’ Pet Connect Rescue, Inc. brokered the sale of dogs from puppy mills rather than rescue dogs which affected Plaintiff PetConnect’s reputation. The Court also found that Plaintiff PetConnect Rescue raised a claim within the Lanham Act’s zone of interests because the Lanham Act’s protections extended to non-profit organizations’ use of marks, even when those marks do not accompany a sale. The Court refused to dismiss Plaintiffs claims regarding trademark infringement. The Court also refused to dismiss the Plaintiff’s claims under the Lanham Act because the matter of whether Plaintiff’s mark was distinct and had acquired a secondary meaning was a matter more appropriate when the evidentiary record becomes further developed. As for the Unfair Competition claim, the Court found that the Plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts to state a UCL violation. The Court subsequently rejected the Defendants’ motions to strike thirty-four lines or phrases from the amended complaint because Plaintiff’s use of the terms “puppy mill,” and the allegations that Defendants operate “fake” entities that “induce” purchases, reflected Plaintiff’s allegations of fraud and misrepresentation. The Court found that the Plaintiffs’ references were pertinent to the Plaintiff’s allegations. The Court ultimately denied each of the Defendant’s motions to dismiss and strike.
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.
Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Olympic Game Farm, Inc. --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2019 WL 2191876 (W.D. Wash. May 21, 2019) This case has to do with the mistreatment and unsafe captivity of numerous animals kept at a roadside zoo in Sequim, Washington called Olympic Game Farm (OGF). The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) alleged that OGF’s failure to abide by the Federal Endangered Species Act, as well as alleged violations of Washington State animal cruelty laws created a public nuisance. OGF admitted one of the allegations, specifically, that they are not accredited but possess or display Roosevelt Elk. That was an admitted violation of Washington law which makes it unlawful for a non-accredited facility to possess such a species. That single admission supported ALDF’s public nuisance claim in addition to all of the other alleged state violations. The court stated that ALDF met the "low bar" of standing in a public nuisance context. Accordingly, OGF’s Motion to Dismiss was denied.
In re: Jennifer Caudill 2013 WL 604009 (U.S.D.A. Feb. 1, 2013) Although the Complaint alleged that Caudill made false or fraudulent statements and/or provided false or fraudulent records to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the emphasis in the Complaint suggested that primary reliance was being placed upon the more general determination of unfitness. The Complaint alleged that Respondents (collectively, including Caudill) engaged in activities designed to circumvent an order of the Secretary of Agriculture in revoking the Animal Welfare Act exhibitor's license previously held by Lancelot Kollman Ramos, and have acted as surrogates for Ramos. Caudill and Kalmanson were alleged to continue to act as Ramos's surrogates, and to facilitate the circumvention of his license revocation order. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found factual support for termination on the grounds of false statements and providing false documents to be lacking. The AJL also found little support for the conclusion that Caudill in any way was operating as a surrogate for Ramos. The ALJ did find that although Caudill had initiated discussions with Ramos concerning the purchase of his animals prior to the effective date of his license revocation, her subsequent consummation of the transaction after his license had been revoked constitutes a violation of 9 C.F.R. § 2.132. In the end, however, the evidence was insufficient to find that Respondent Caudill was unfit to hold an AWA license or that maintenance of a license by her would in any way be contrary to the purposes of the Act
Warren v. Delvista Towers Condominium Ass'n, Inc. 49 F.Supp.3d 1082 (S.D. Fla. 2014) In its motion for summary judgment, Defendant argues Plaintiff’s accommodation request under the Federal Fair Housing Act (the “FHA”) to modify Defendant's “no pet” policy was unreasonable because Plaintiff's emotional support animal was a pit bull and pit bulls were banned by county ordinance. In denying the Defendant’s motion, the District Court found that changing a no pets policy for an emotional support animal was a reasonable accommodation under the FHA. The court also found that enforcing the county ordinance would violate the FHA by permitting a discriminatory housing practice. However, in line with US Department of Housing and Urban Development notices, the court found genuine issues of material fact remained as to whether the dog posed a direct threat to members of the condominium association, and whether that threat could be reduced by other reasonable accommodations.
U.S. v. FMC Corp. 572 F.2d 902 (2nd Cir., 1978) FMC operated a plant which manufactured various pesticides, requiring large amounts of wastewater which was stored in a pond. The pond attracted waterfowl during migration, some of which died. FMC attempted various measures to keep birds away from the pond. But, the Court held that FMC had engaged in an activity involving the manufacture of a highly toxic chemical and had failed to prevent this chemical from escaping into the pond and killing birds. The Court, therefore, held that this was sufficient to impose strict liability on FMC.
Fair Housing of the Dakotas, Inc. v. Goldmark Property Management, Inc. 78 F.Supp.2d 1028 (D.N.D. 2011) Plaintiffs bring this action against Goldmark Property Management alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The alleged discriminatory policy is a mandatory application fee, non-refundable deposit, and monthly charge that Goldmark imposes on tenants with disabilities who reside with a non-specially trained assistance animal (i.e. a companion pet). These same fees are waived for tenants with disabilities who reside with a trained assistance animal (i.e. a seeing eye dog). The FHA encompasses all types of assistance animals regardless of training; therefore, Goldmark's policy implicates the FHA. Further, Plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a prima face case of discrimination and have presented sufficient evidence to create genuine issues for trial on the questions of the necessity and reasonableness of the requested accommodation and whether Goldmark's alleged objective for the policy is permissible under the FHA and not pretextual. Therefore, Goldmark's motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part. It is granted as to Plaintiffs' claim of disparate treatment because no proof was offered of a discriminatory intent. It is denied as to Plaintiffs' claims of disparate impact and failure to make a reasonable accommodation.
Stevens v. Hollywood Towers and Condominium Ass'n 836 F.Supp.2d 800 (N.D. Ill. 2011) Plaintiffs brought the instant suit contending that their Condo Board's refusal to accommodate the need for an emotional support animal forced them to sell their condo. The Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted. After finding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to unrestricted access for their dog despite a no pet waiver and after needing more facts to determine whether Defendants restrictions on Plaintiffs’ access to the building were reasonable, the District Court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims under the Federal Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA). The District Court also found Plaintiffs' interference or intimidation allegations sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. However, the District Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ nuisance claim because Plaintiffs had not contended that Defendants unreasonably used their own property to interfere in Plaintiffs' use and enjoyment of their home, but rather, contended that Defendants made rules that interfered with the Plaintiff's ability to use the common areas of the property as they wished. Plaintiffs’ intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was also dismissed because Plaintiffs had not sufficiently alleged that Defendants' conduct was extreme or outrageous. Finally, the constructive eviction claim was dismissed because more than a year had past between the owners’ accommodation request and the sale of their condominium. In sum, Counts I, II, and III went forward, but the remainder of the complaint was dismissed. Additionally, Defendant Sudler Building Services was dismissed from the complaint.
U.S. v. CITGO Petroleum Corp. 893 F.Supp.2d 841 (S,D.Tex.,2014) In 2007, CITGO was convicted of unlawfully taking and aiding and abetting the taking of migratory birds under MBTA § 707(a) after ten dead birds were found in two large open-top oil tanks. CITGO moved the Court to vacate its convictions, arguing that the MTBA criminalizes the unlawful taking or killing of migratory birds by hunting, trapping, poaching, or similar means, but does not criminalize commercial activities in which migratory birds are unintentionally killed as a result of activity completely unrelated to hunting, trapping, or poaching. In response, the Government argued that the MTBA prohibits the taking or killing of a migratory bird at any time, by any means or in any manner. The evidence presented at trial established that a number of individuals saw oil-covered birds, both dead and alive. An employee told senior management and suggested to another member of CITGO's senior management team that CITGO install nets on the tanks to prevent birds from landing in the oil. Based on this evidence, the court held that not only was it reasonably foreseeable that protected migratory birds might become trapped in the layers of oil on top of the tanks, but that CITGO was aware that this was happening for years and did nothing to stop it. Because CITGO's unlawful, open-air oil tanks proximately caused the deaths of migratory birds in violation of the MBTA, CITGO's Motion to Vacate CITGO's Conviction for Violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was denied.
Coyote v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (no F.Supp. citation) 1994 E.D. California

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.

Saenz v. DOI (vacated by U.S. v. Hardman, 260 F.3d 1199 (10th Cir. 2001)) (no West citation. Docket No. 00-2166)

(This case was vacated by United States v. Hardman, 260 F.3d 1199(10th Cir. 2001). Appellant was descended from the Chiricahua tribe of Apache Indians, and, although originally recognized as a tribe, it is not presently recognized.  The court affirmed the vacating of defendant's conviction for possessing eagle parts, holding that the present test under RFRA with regard to whether a tribe has been formally recognized bears no relationship whatsoever to whether one sincerely practices Indian religions and is substantially burdened when prohibited from possessing eagle parts.  For discussion of Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion .

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."
Lunon v. Botsford --- F.3d ----, 2019 WL 7198501 (8th Cir. Dec. 27, 2019) Lunon had a German Shephard as a breed dog, named Bibi, which had gotten loose and was turned into the local animal shelter. The animal control officer failed to scan the dog for a microchip. After five days at the animal shelter, Bibi was sterilized and adopted out. Lunon was able to recover his dog through a replevin action, however, Lunon claimed that his fourteenth amendment right to procedural due process was violated when Bibi was spayed and adopted out without providing pre-deprivation notice and an opportunity for Lunon to be heard. Lunon filed suit against the animal control officer, two directors of the animal shelter in Pulaski County, the city of North Little Rock, Pulaski County, the Pulaski County Animal Shelter, and the North Little Rock Animal Shelter. The defendants removed the case to federal court and sought summary judgment. The district court did not grant summary judgment and the defendants appealed. The Court found that the animal control officer picking up Bibi and delivering her to the animal shelter did not deprive Lunon of a protected property interest. There is no constitutional duty for an animal control officer to scan a stray dog for a microchip. Therefore, the animal control officer was not liable. The public officials that participated in this action were all protected under governmental immunity because Lunon failed to demonstrate that each individual defendant violated his constitutional right to due process. The Court ultimately reversed the order of the district court and remanded with directions to enter judgment dismissing those claims with prejudice.
Hines v. Quillivan --- F.3d ----, 2020 WL 7054278 (5th Cir. Dec. 2, 2020) This case asks whether a veterinarian in Texas has a right to engage in telemedicine for a pet he has not physically examined. The plaintiff challenged Texas' physical-examination requirement that prohibits veterinarians from offering individualized advice to pet owners unless the vet previously examined the animal. Dr. Ronald Hines, a licensed veterinarian in Texas, stopped practicing in-person veterinary medicine in 2002 due to his age and other ailments. He then transitioned to a practice based remotely through the Internet. In 2012, the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (the Board) investigated Hines and found he had violated state law. The Board ordered him to cease providing veterinary advice electronically without first physically examining the animal. In 2013, Dr. Hines filed suit against the Board members claiming that the physical-examination requirement violated his First Amendment, equal-protection, and substantive-due-process rights. The district court then granted the motion to dismiss by the Board and the Court of Appeals found Hines failed to state a claim on appeal. Since that 2015 opinion, Texas revised its medical doctor laws, allowing them to engage in telemedicine, but did not do the same for veterinary practice laws. In addition to that change, a United States Supreme Court held that statements made by medical doctors could now be deemed "professional speech" (the "NIFLA" case). As a result of these changes, Hines brought the present suit arguing that the changes in Texas' telemedicine laws and the NIFLA case enabled him to pursue a new equal-protection claim and First Amendment claim. With regard to his protected speech claim, this Court found that subsequent caselaw does entitle Hines' claim to greater judicial scrutiny than his previous case allowed. Thus, remand to the district court to make the initial evaluation of whether Hines' conduct or speech is being regulated is required. On the equal-protection argument, the court found that Hines presents an argument slightly different than his previous one. In essence, Hines argued in the prior appeal that the he physical-examination requirement treated veterinarians engaging in telemedicine differently than other veterinarians. Here, Hines argues that changes to the medical doctor licensing laws treats medical doctors differently than veterinarians in the state with respect to telemedicine. Using a rational-basis review, the court held that it is rational to distinguish between human and animal medicine because of the differences in training, schooling, and overall practice of the professions. The court found the state's proffered reason that animals cannot communicate their symptoms as humans can ordinarily was a persuasive rational basis (although both Hines and the Dissent note that some humans like infants are unable to speak similar to animals and yet are allowed to be treated via telemedicine). The court found the services provided by both professions are not interchangeable and thus, the physical-examination requirement is not a protectionist measure for medical doctors. Ultimately, the court left it to the Texas legislature to expand any telemedicine changes to the veterinary practice code. The action was affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Haaland --- F.3d ----, 2021 WL 2232487 (9th Cir. June 3, 2021) This case is a challenge to a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") reversing its previous decision that the Pacific walrus qualified for listing as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (“ESA”). In 2008, the Center for Biological Diversity (“Center”) petitioned the Service to list the Pacific walrus as threatened or endangered, citing the claimed effects of climate change on its habitat. In 2011, after completing a species status assessment, the Service issued a 45-page decision ("Decision") that found the listing of the Pacific walrus was warranted, but it declined to list the species because it found the need to prioritize more urgent listings. A settlement between the parties in 2017 required the Service to submit a proposed rule or a non-warranted finding. In May of 2017, the Service completed a final species assessment ("Assessment") that concluded some of the stressors to the species had "declined in magnitude" and the walruses had adjusted, which culminated in "a terse 3-page final decision that the Pacific walrus no longer qualified as a threatened species." As a result, in 2018, the Center filed this action alleging that the 2017 Decision violated the APA and ESA. The District Court granted summary judgement to the Service and this appeal followed. The Ninth Circuit first observed that, while the Assessment contains some new information, it does not explain why this new information resulted in an about-face from the Service's 2011 conclusion that the Pacific walrus met the statutory criteria for listing. The Service contends the appellate inquiry must be limited to the 3-page Decision document from 2017. However, the Court noted that a review of the reasons offered by the Service in its appellate briefing illustrates why the Court cannot conduct the required appellate review without reference to the previous Assessment. The agency's new policy contradicts its prior policy (the Decision document which was 40+ more pages longer than the Assessment and includes citations and other data). The Ninth Circuit now holds that the Service did not sufficiently explain why it changed its prior position. As a result, the Court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Service and remanded it to the District Court to direct the Service to provide a sufficient explanation of its new position.
Ass'n des Éleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec v. Bonta --- F.4th ----, 2022 WL 1436840 (9th Cir. May 6, 2022) California prohibits the in-state sale of products that are “the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size.” Cal. Health & Safety Code § 25982. The law had a 7.5-year grace period before it went into effect. The law has two components: first, it bans the practice of force-feeding ducks and geese to produce foie gras; and second, the law banned the in-state sale of products that are "the result" of that practice. After nine years of litigation and in their third set of appeals before this Court, the parties ask the court here to decide whether California's sales ban is preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act (“PPIA”) or violates the dormant Commerce Clause. As to the first issue of preemption, the plaintiff sellers contend that at least one USDA Policy Book defines foie gras as liver from poultry that has been "specially fed and fattened" and other USDA documents suggest this is done via forced-feeding. Thus, contend the sellers, it is impossible to produce and properly label foie gras, as is required by the PPIA, and then also comply with the California law. The court disagreed with the assertion, finding that the sellers can still force feed birds to make their products, but not sell those in California. Said the court, "The sales ban is neither a command to market non-force-fed products as foie gras nor to call force-fed products something different." Further, the sellers raise a new suggestion that the ban constitutes express preemption because force feeding operates as an "ingredient requirement." Essentially, they contend you cannot have foie gras without force-feeding birds. This was also rejected, as the court found nothing new that would reverse the precedent established in the prior decision by the court. Finally, the sellers appeal dismissal of their dormant Commerce Clause claim, arguing that the sales ban is impermissibly extraterritorial because force-feeding is only banned in California and therefore, only regulates out-of-state conduct. The court dismissed this, noting states are free to regulate commerce within their boundaries provided such regulation does not affect transactions from out of that state. Moreover, the sellers' argument that the ban is "unduly burdensome" for this reason also failed since there is not requirement that a state impose the "least burdensome" method for in-state commerce. The court held that the sales ban is neither preempted nor unconstitutional and that the specified transactions are out-of-state sales permitted by California law.
Marino v. Nat'l Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin. --- F.4th ----, 2022 WL 1548489 (D.C. Cir. May 17, 2022) Plaintiff animal welfare organizations sued the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking to enforce conditions in permits held by SeaWorld. The permits authorize the capture and display of orcas and require display facilities to transmit medical and necropsy data to the NMFS following the death of an animal displayed under the terms of a permit. In 1994, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was amended such that it shifted authority to oversee conditions of marine mammals at exhibitors from NMFS to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). After three pre-1994 orcas died at SeaWorld, plaintiffs tried to convince NMFS that it still had the authority to enforce the pre-1994 rules related to release of records, but NMFS contended that its authority was extinguished in 1994. Plaintiffs brought suit, arguing that the NMFS's policy rests upon an arbitrary and capricious interpretation of the MMPA, and that its refusal to enforce the permit conditions was also arbitrary and capricious. The district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ suit for lack of standing. On appeal here, the court examined plaintiffs' standing under the three-part Lujan test. The court found a lack of redressability for the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs fail to allege any facts from which the court could infer the relief they seek would likely cause the NMFS to redress their alleged harms. In fact, because the MMPA language on permits is permissive, NMFS has discretion whether to enforce them. This is coupled with the fact that there is no evidence that third-party SeaWorld will turn over the reports even if NMFS were to direct them. Therefore, this court held that the district court did not err in determining that the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue this case. Affirmed.
Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife v. Kelly --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2015 WL 1293338 (D. Idaho 2015) Plaintiffs brought an action against the Defendants, challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”)'s November 28, 2012 Final Rule designating 30,010 acres in Idaho and Washington as critical habitat for the southern Selkirk Mountains population of woodland caribou under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Specifically, plaintiffs alleged (1) that the Final Rule's critical habitat designation was arbitrary and capricious because the Defendants failed to explain how the limited amount of critical habitat designated was sufficient to recover this population of caribou and (2) that Defendants failed to provide public notice and comment on the substantially revised critical habitat designation before issuing the Final Rule. Defendants and Intervenors argued that the Final Rule satisfied the requirements of the ESA and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA").While the district court stated that the Final Rule's analysis seemed reasonably based on the best available science, it refused to make a conclusive determination on the arbitrary and capricious issue because procedural requirements necessitated a further public review and comment period. The court therefore found the error in this case was a procedural one resulting from the FWS failing to provide a period of public review and comment on the Final Rule's critical change in reasoning. The Court therefore remanded this matter to the FWS to cure the procedural error by affording the necessary public comment period and to consider anew the critical habitat designation in light of those comments.
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.
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.
Sanzaro v. Ardiente Homeowners Association, LLC --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2019 WL 1049380 (D. Nev. Mar. 5, 2019) Deborah Sanzaro and Michael Sanzaro are the plaintiffs in this action. Plaintiffs are homeowners and members of a homeowners association ("HOA"). Three incidents occurred at the HOA clubhouse in which Deborah Sanzaro attempted to enter with her Chihuahua, which she claimed was a service animal. In each of these three incidents, Deborah was denied access to the clubhouse. The first incident occurred on March 11, 2009. Deborah entered the club house with her dog and the manager of the HOA asked her why she brought the dog into the clubhouse with her. Deborah explained that her dog assisted her with her disability and was a service animal, however, she could not provide any documentation to the manager as to that effect. She was then asked to leave the clubhouse to which she refused. Only after security was called did Deborah leave. Later, on that same day, Deborah entered the clubhouse with her service dog without any incident. The HOA sent a letter to the plaintiffs after the first incident notifying them that that Deborah had violated the HOA’s governing documents and that a hearing before the HOA board would take place on March 30, 2009. Plaintiffs never showed for this hearing which ultimately resulted in the Board finding that Deborah violated HOA rules and regulations by entering the clubhouse with her dog and not providing documentation. Deborah was assessed multiple fines. Prior to the hearing, the HOA sent out letters to the other residents letting them know that they would accommodate any legitimate service animal if their staff is properly advised of such. They also mailed out a letter regarding the incident with the plaintiffs to all of the other residents. The plaintiffs began to receive hate mail and verbal harassment regarding their dispute with the HOA board. The plaintiffs received many threats and had their property defaced by an anonymous homeowner who spray painted their garage door telling them to get out of the neighborhood. The HOA did nothing to stop this harassment. Plaintiffs filed a complaint with the Nevada Real Estate Division and their claim was submitted to a non-binding arbitrator. Deborah provided a doctor’s statement requesting that her dog be registered as a service dog, a notice of entitlement to disability benefits from the SSA, a doctor’s statement regarding Deborah’s disability, and a statement from Deborah explaining how her dog had been trained to assist her. The Arbitrator found for the Ardiente Homeowners Association because she did not find Deborah’s explanation as to why she needed the dog as being persuasive. The arbitration decision was upheld by the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County, Nevada as well as by the Nevada Supreme Court. On July 26, 2010, Plaintiffs entered the clubhouse again with the dog. They were told that they could not come in unless they provided more documentation despite the documentation that the Deborah had provided during the arbitration proceeding. On January 29, 2011 the plaintiffs entered the clubhouse again with the dog and they were again denied entry until the plaintiffs could provide documentation that the dog was a registered service animal. The HOA eventually foreclosed on the plaintiff’s home in order to recover the fines and attorney’s fees that were owed. Plaintiffs then brought 102 causes of action in federal court under the ADA and FHA which were pared down to two questions: (1) whether the HOA clubhouse was a place of public accommodation under the ADA and NRS § 651.075, and (2) whether Plaintiffs requested, and were ultimately refused, a reasonable accommodation under the FHA. For the plaintiff ADA claims, the District Court found that Deborah is disabled as a matter of law and that the HOA and other defendants were aware of her disability at least as of July 27, 2009 (the date of the arbitration). The Court also found that the clubhouse was not a place of public accommodation and that the entire community including the clubhouse was a private establishment. As a result the plaintiffs were not able to establish a claim for disability discrimination under the ADA. For the plaintiff’s FHA claims, the Court found the following: Deborah was qualified as handicapped under the FHA; the defendants were reasonably expected to know about her handicap; an accommodation was necessary for Deborah to use the clubhouse; the dog qualified as a service animal and permitting the dog to accompany Deborah was a reasonable accommodation; and the defendants refused to make the requested accommodation which makes them liable. For the Nevada law claim, it failed because the community and clubhouse are a private establishment and were not considered public accommodations. Plaintiffs were entitled to damages for their FHA claims only. The Court ultimately found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $350,000 in compensatory damages, $285,000 in punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation.
Art and Antique Dealers of Am., Inc. v. Seggos --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2019 WL 3817305 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 14, 2019) The plaintiffs are trade organizations representing arts and antique dealers. Plaintiff’s members have an “economic and professional interest in. . .the purchase, sale, distribution or trading of antique elephant ivory.” The Defendant is the Commissioner of DEC which is a state agency tasked with protecting New York’s natural resources and environment. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits the import and export of endangered species and the sale, offering for sale, or movement of endangered species in interstate or foreign commerce. The prohibitions, however, had exceptions for “antique articles” that are 100 years of age or older. Those wishing to import such antique articles needed to first obtain a federal permit. Under the regulations promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior, trade of African elephant ivory is generally prohibited. Only certain items containing a de minimus quantity of ivory are exempt. The state of New York imposed a ban on elephant ivory with even narrower exceptions than the ESA. The DEC only issued licenses authorizing trade in ivory pursuant to the State Ivory Law’s exceptions. The licenses actually issued by the DEC restricted the advertisement and display of ivory products. Plaintiff’s filed this action challenging the constitutionality of the State Ivory Law on preemption and First Amendment grounds. The Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment and the Defendants and Intervenors crossed-moved to dismiss. The Court examined the ESA and determined that section 1535(f) did not preempt the State Ivory Law because the ESA prohibitions only applied to interstate or foreign commerce while the State Ivory Law applied to intrastate commerce. As result, the exceptions contained in the State Ivory Law did not prohibit what was authorized by the ESA. The Court granted the Defendant’s motion to dismiss on Count I because it was not “the clear and manifest purpose of Congress to preempt state laws restricting purely intrastate commerce in ivory.” The Plaintiff’s second count alleged that the State Ivory Law’s permit requirement violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The display restriction in the license prohibited the physical display for sale of any item not authorized for intrastate sale under the State Ivory Law even if the merchant was authorized under the ESA to sell the item in interstate commerce. The Court determined that the in-store display of ivory products constituted commercial speech because the display constituted lawful activity, New York had a substantial interest in regulating the sale of ivory within its borders and the display restriction directly advanced that interest. The Court was unable to determine whether the display restriction burdened substantially more speech than was necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests. Ultimately the Court granted the Defendant’s and Intervenor’s cross-motions to dismiss with respect to preemption and denied both the Defendant’s and Plaintiff’s motions for summary judgment with respect to the First Amendment Claim.
Club Gallistico de Puerto Rico Inc. v. United States --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2019 WL 5566322 (D.P.R. Oct. 28, 2019) Club Gallistico de Puerto Rico, Inc. (Club Gallistico) and the Asociacion Cultural y Deportiva del Gallo Fino de Pelea (Asociacion Cultural) both filed civil complaints against the United States Government. The complaints alleged that the Section 12616 amendments to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violated bedrock principles of federalism and rights protected under the United States Constitution. Both Club Gallistico and Asociacion Cultural are both non-profit organizations involved in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s cockfighting industry. The amendments to the AWA outlawed all animal fighting ventures in which animals were moved in interstate or foreign commerce in every United States jurisdiction. These amendments extended the ban to United States territories which the Plaintiffs argued the United States did not have the authority to do. Both cases were consolidated and heard by the District Court. The Court analyzed the amendments under the Federalism doctrine, the Commerce Clause, and the Territorial Clause. Extending the ban on live-bird fighting did not violate either of the three. Further, the amendments did not violate the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution or any other constitutional rights such as free speech or due process. The Court ultimately denied the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Granted Defendant United States’ Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.
PETA v. Tri-State Zoological Park --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2019 WL 7185560 (D. Md. Dec. 26, 2019) PETA brought this action against defendants Tri-State Zoological Park of Western Maryland, Inc., Animal Park, Care & Rescue, Inc., and Robert Candy (collectively, “Tri-State”). Prior to this lawsuit, Tri-State was home to two lemurs, five tigers, and two lions which are all protected under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). More than half of the protected species housed at Tri-State died. PETA alleged violations of the ESA. PETA contended that the animals were subjected to harm and harassment and that Tri-State committed a “take” as defined by the ESA as a result of unsanitary living conditions, poor diets, and inadequate shelter and enrichment. The district court found that PETA had standing to bring suit. The court also found that each of the respective animals had been subjected to a take under the ESA. The court ultimately held that it would enter a separate order declaring that the Defendants violated the ESA by unlawfully taking the remaining big cats and maintaining possession of them. The Court permanently enjoined the Defendants from ever owning or possessing any endangered or threatened species and terminated the Defendants’ ownership and possessory rights to the animals. The Defendants’ motion to stay was denied.
Dallas Safari Club v. Bernhardt --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 1809181 (D.D.C. Apr. 9, 2020) Individual elephant sport hunters and their hunting organizations (“Plaintiffs”) filed suit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (the “Service”) seeking to import their sport-hunted elephant trophies from Africa into the United States. The Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction requiring the Service to process pending and subsequently filed permit applications. The African Elephant is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and is also a species that is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (“CITES”). All African elephant trophy imports require the Service to make an enhancement finding, meaning that the killing of the trophy animal will enhance the survival of the species, and issue an ESA permit. Additionally, certain African elephant trophy imports require a non-detriment finding and a CITES import permit. Historically, the Service made periodic countrywide enhancement and non-detriment findings, however, this came to a halt due to a Presidential tweet surrounding media criticism over the Service’s decision to lift the suspension on Zimbabwe’s ESA enhancement finding. The Court found that injunctive relief was not warranted because the Plaintiffs failed to show irreparable harm as to any Plaintiff. The individual Plaintiffs argued that they had suffered both emotional harm and economic harm. However, the Plaintiffs were on notice that their applications could take a significant amount of time to process. Additionally, the emotional distress claimed by the Plaintiffs would be alleviated when the Service issues a decision either granting or denying their permit applications, therefore, the harm that the Plaintiffs were claiming was not irreparable. The Court found that the individual hunter Plaintiffs’ alleged emotional and economic injuries were insufficient to warrant a preliminary injunction. The organizational Plaintiffs argued that they each were suffering irreparable harm derivatively because the Service’s delay in processing permit applications would decrease the popularity of sport hunting in Africa and cause a decrease in funding for conservation efforts. The problem was that the organizational Plaintiffs offered no proof to substantiate this argument. The Court ultimately held that in light of the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the diminished capacity of the Service to process permit applications during this unprecedented time, it would be unwise and not in the public interest to order the expeditious processing of sport trophy permit applications. The Court denied Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.
PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, INC., Plaintiff, v. WILDLIFE IN NEED AND WILDLIFE IN DEED, INC. --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 4448481 (S.D. Ind. Aug. 3, 2020) Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed, Inc. ("WIN") is a zoo located in Charlestown, Indiana owned by Timothy Stark and Melissa Lane that houses exotic and endangered animals, including Big Cats like lions, tigers, and hybrids. WIN exhibits Big Cats to the public through hands-on encounters called “Tiger Baby Playtime” so Stark routinely declaws Big Cat cubs in his possession so he can handle them easier, not for any medical reason. Stark admitted to declawing "about a dozen cubs" in 2016 alone. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. ("PETA") filed this lawsuit against Stark and Lane and their WIN zoo alleging that the defendants harassed and wounded Big Cats in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specifically, this case asks whether certain animal exhibitors have "taken" various species of Big Cats by declawing them and prematurely separating them from their mothers to use in hands-on, public interactions. By granting PETA's motion for Partial Summary Judgment, this court concludes that such conduct constitutes a "taking" and thus violates the ESA. The court noted that PETA's motion for preliminary injunction was granted in 2017, restraining defendant from declawing any Big Cats absent a medical necessity supported by a veterinarian's opinion. Then, on February 12, 2018, the court preliminarily enjoined the WIN Defendants from declawing their Big Cats, prematurely separating Big Cat Cubs from their mothers, and using Cubs in Tiger Baby Playtime. The court previously concluded that declawing constitutes a “taking” under the ESA at the preliminary injunction stage, and now found "there is no good reason to disturb that conclusion." Thus, the court again concludes the WIN Defendants' declawing constitutes a “taking” under the ESA: it “harasses” Big Cats by creating a likelihood of significantly disrupting normal behavioral patterns; it “harms” Big Cats by actually injuring them; and it “wounds” Big Cats by inflicting a physical injury. In addition to granting the permanent injunction, the court also directed PETA to file a motion to appoint a special master and identify a reputable wildlife sanctuary for the animals housed at WIN.
Just Puppies, Inc. v. Frosh --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 607026 (D. Md. Feb. 7, 2020) The State of Maryland passed a “No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act” which went into effect January 1, 2020. The Act prohibits retail pet stores in Maryland from offering for sale or otherwise transferring or disposing of cats or dogs. Four pet stores, a dog breeder, and a dog broker filed suit against Brian Frosh, the Attorney General of Maryland, the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Maryland Attorney General (CPD), the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee, and the Maryland State Senate Finance Committee seeking an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the Act as well as a declaration that it is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Defendants were all entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, unless an exception were to apply. Under the Ex parte Young exception “private citizens may sue state officials in their official capacities in federal court to obtain prospective relief from ongoing violations of federal law.” The CPD and Committee Defendants were not State officials and, therefore, they did not fall within the Ex parte Young exception. The Ex parte Young exception, however, applied to Mr. Frosh as he was the Attorney General of Maryland since he had some connection with the enforcement of the Act. In Counts I, II, and III, the Plaintiffs alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act violated the Constitution's Commerce Clause. The Court found that the Plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that the Act discriminated against out-of-state breeders and brokers in its text, in its effect, or in its purpose. Count IV alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act was preempted by the AWA. The Court found that prohibiting Maryland pet stores from selling dogs or cats had no effect on the operation of the AWA. The Puppy-Mill Act's impact on pet stores did not clash with the AWA, because pet stores were explicitly exempt from the AWA. Count V alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act deprived Plaintiffs of their constitutional right to the equal protection of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Court found no merit in this argument. Count VI asserted that the Act created a monopoly prohibited by Article 41 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. The Court found that the Puppy-Mill Act did not constitute an exclusive right to sell cats and dog in Maryland. Although the Act prohibited brick and mortar stores from participating in the sale of cats and dogs, consumers still had a plethora of choices when seeking to obtain a pet, including rescue shelters, animal control units, USDA licensed breeders and brokers, and unregulated hobby breeders. The Court ultimately dismissed all claims against the CPD and the Committee Defendants and allowed the claims against Brian Frosh to proceed.
Madero v. Luffey --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 733766 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 13, 2020) Ronald Madero allegedly took care of abandoned cats in his neighborhood by giving them food, shelter, and occasional medical care. Madero lived in a duplex in which his son owned both halves of the building. A neighbor contacted Animal Care and Control (ACC) and complained about abandoned kittens in front of her residence. On or about June 15, 2017, Officer Christine Luffey of the Pittsburgh Police Department arrived at Madero’s residence with a non-officer volunteer, Mary Kay Gentert. Officer Luffey requested to inspect the inside of both sides of the duplex. Madero refused and Luffey claimed she had a search warrant. Madero believed that Gentert was present to assist with spay and neuter services for the cats and consented to allow Gentert to inspect the premises while Luffey waited outside. Gentert took photographs inside. Some time afterwards, Luffey executed a search warrant. Madero asserted that the information gathered and photographs taken by Gentert were used to obtain the search warrant. A total of forty-two cats were seized. Madero asserts that after the cats were seized the cats were left for hours on the hot concrete in direct sunlight with no water and that snare catch poles were used to strangle the cats and force them into carriers or traps. Madero further asserted that the cats were not provided with veterinary care for several weeks and were kept in small cages in a windowless room. Some of the cats were ultimately euthanized. On August 7, 2017, Officer Luffey filed a criminal complaint against Madero accusing him of five counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and thirty-seven summary counts of cruelty to animals. Madero pled nolo contendere to twenty counts of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to ninety days of probation for each count with all twenty sentences to run consecutively. Madero filed a complaint asserting various causes of action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law alleging illegal search and wrongful seizure of the cats against Officer Luffey, Homeless Cat Management Team (“HCMT”), Provident, and Humane Animal Rescue (“HAR”). The defendants each filed Motions to Dismiss. Madero pled that the cats were abandoned or stray cats, however, he also pled that the cats were his property and evidenced this by pleading that he fed the cats and provided shelter as well as veterinary care. The Court found that Madero pled sufficient facts to support ownership of the cats to afford him the standing to maintain his claims under section 1983 and common law. The Court held that Madero pled a plausible claim against Luffey on all counts of his complaint. Madero alleged that Officer Luffey violated his Fourth Amendment rights by lying about having a search warrant and securing consent by threatening to bust his door down. As for Madero’s state law claims, the court dismissed his negligent misrepresentation claim against Luffey as well as his claims for concerted tortious conduct. Madero failed to plead a threshold color of state law claim against the HAR defendants. There can be no violation of constitutional rights without state action. Madero’s claims for conversion and trespass to chattel against the HAR defendants were also dismissed. All claims against Provident were dismissed, however, Madero’s claim against HCMT for conspiracy was able to proceed. The Court ultimately denied in part and granted in part Officer Luffey’s Motion to Dismiss, Granted HAR’s Motion to Dismiss, and denied in part and granted in part HCMT’s and Provident’s Motion to Dismiss.
Turner v. Ferguson --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 97526 (E.D. Wis. Jan. 7, 2020) On March 5, 2017 Lori turner was attacked by her neighbor’s (“Arndt”) dog which required her to receive 11 staples to close the wound on her scalp. She also suffered bites on her shoulder and wrist that would later require surgery. Pursuant to local regulations, the neighbor’s dog was quarantined for a ten-day period. Lori mentioned to officers that the City of Gelndale had recently enacted an ordinance that allowed for an officer to declare a dog vicious which then required the owner of the dog to adhere to certain requirements like securing the dog in a kennel when it was outdoors and maintaining liability insurance for dog bites. On March 14, 2017, Officer Ruppel issued a citation to Ardnt under a Glendale ordinance for damage caused by dogs, however, he did not declare the dog vicious under the vicious-dog ordinance. Officer Ruppel reasoned during deposition that he chose not to do so because he considered Ardnt grabbing the dog by the neck and Lori walking up and petting the dog (prior to Ardnt’s action) provocation. Lori filed suit against the officers she interacted with over the course of the next year claiming that the officers denied her equal protection of the law by refusing to declare Arndt’s dog vicious and by failing to protect her from loose dogs in the neighborhood. Lori had repeatedly contacted the police department over the course of a year about how she did not like the outcome of her dog bite case and about loose dogs in the neighborhood. Lori specifically alleged that the officers treated her with animus. The Court ultimately found that the evidence in the record did not support a class-of-one equal protection claim. Officer Ruppel’s decision to not declare Ardnt’s dog vicious was supported by a rational basis. Additionally, no evidence existed that suggested that the Glendale police department intentionally and irrationally treated Lori’s complaints about loose dogs in the neighborhood differently than it treated similar complaints by other citizens. The Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was granted.
Farm Sanctuary v. United States Department of Agriculture --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2021 WL 2644068 (W.D.N.Y. June 28, 2021) Plaintiffs (nonprofit organizations working to protect animals, people, and environments from industrial animal agriculture) filed suit against the USDA and FSIS challenging the implementation of the Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection rule, 84 Fed. Reg. 52,300 (Oct. 11, 2019) ("Slaughter Rule”). Plaintiffs contend that the rule allows nearly all pigs in the U.S. to be slaughtered as "unlimited speeds," thereby posing risks to animal welfare and consumer safety. Plaintiffs' lawsuit was later amended to add a claim that challenges Defendants' failure to ban the slaughter of non-ambulatory or "downed" pigs in the rule. Defendants filed motions to dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiffs have no standing to sue. Plaintiffs contend that they have been injured by Defendants' implementation of the Slaughter Rule. Specifically, Plaintiffs argue that the authorization of the high-speed slaughter rule directly conflicts with their organizational missions and redirects resources to counteracting the Slaughter Rule instead of other activities like rescue of animals and advocacy. Some of the plaintiff organizations further allege that their members include consumers who eat pork products and are concerned about the increased health risks they face from consuming products from pigs who have not been adequately inspected as well as impacts to the environment from increased slaughter. In addition, Plaintiffs allege that the FSIS is not consistent in its treatment of downed pigs versus downed cattle, and that downed pigs are inhumanely forced to rise/stand for slaughter resulting in potential exposure to the public of disease and other public health risks. The court first took up Defendants argument that Plaintiffs lack both organizational and associational standing. The Court has reviewed the amended complaint in light of this Second Circuit precedent and finds that Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that they have been forced to divert resources from mission-critical activities to oppose the Slaughter Rule. In other words, Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that Defendants’ unlawful practices have impaired and frustrated their ability to engage in mission-related activities and caused a consequent drain on their limited resources, which “constitutes far more than simply a setback to the organization's abstract social interests" sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. Taking Plaintiffs allegations in their pleadings as true, the Court finds that the amended complaint contains allegations sufficient to support organizational standing. Having found that Plaintiffs have organization standing, the Court need not reach the issue of associational standing. Accordingly, Defendants’ motion to dismiss is denied. Finally, as to the 2020 Action concerning the downed pigs, the Court found that The Court reaches the same conclusion it did in the 2019 Action: that at this stage of the case, Plaintiffs have alleged organizational standing. The Court notes that several other Plaintiffs have submitted declarations from their members, which further explain how those organizations have sustained an injury-in-fact. Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that they provide additional services beyond mere issue advocacy, that these services have been impaired by Defendants’ actions, and that they have been forced to shift their resources away from those services to oppose the slaughter of downed pigs. Defendants' motions to dismiss were denied.
Tranchita v. Callahan --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2021 WL 50349 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 5, 2021) This case involves a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction by Plaintiff Tranchita against Colleen Callahan, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). In 2019, agents of the IDNR seized four coyotes Tranchita was raising at her home. After the seizure, three of the four coyotes died, and the remaining coyote, Luna, is elderly and in poor health. Tranchita seeks return of Luna from the coyote rescue center where Luna now resides. The IDNR contends that it will not release Luna until a court declares that the Plaintiff can legally possess her. By way of background, Tranchita is a wildlife exhibitor and educator who has cared for orphaned coyote pups since 2006. In 2016, Tranchita forgot to obtain another Breeder Permit and then failed to do so for the successive three years. Consequently, while she possessed a USDA Exhibitor License, she did not possess the required Illinois state licenses to keep coyotes. In 2019, Plaintiff sought relief in Illinois state court, which found that should she regain possession of Luna again, she must possess a Breeder Permit. The court did not consider whether that permit alone was sufficient or whether a Hound Running Permit is also required. Plaintiff then voluntarily dismissed her state court complaint and, four months later, filed a six-count verified complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. After that filing, Plaintiff moved for a TRO and preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from (1) requiring her to hold a Hound Running Permit in order to keep Luna in Illinois; and (2) seizing Luna so long as Tranchita holds a current Breeder Permit. Tranchita seeks prospective declaratory and injunctive remedies that are all directed to allowing her to keep Luna in Illinois without a Hound Running Permit. The court first examined Tranchita 's likelihood of success on the merits for her five claims: her “class-of-one” equal protection claim, preemption claim, free exercise claim, procedural due process claim, and substantive due process claim. As to the first "class-of-one" claim, the court found that Tranchita's displeasure and disagreement with Defendants’ failure to enforce the Hound Running Permit requirement against other alleged violators likely does not give rise to a class-of-one claim. Further, the court found Tranchita was not likely to success on her claim asserting that the AWA preempts the IDNR's policy requiring an individual who wants to possess a coyote to obtain a Hound Running Permit. The court rejected Plaintiff's argument that hound running in Illinois constitutes an “animal fighting venture” that the AWA prohibits. Indeed, the court noted that the state definition for "hound running" includes when an authorized species "pursued with dogs in a hound running area, but not in a manner or with the intent to capture or kill.” Further, the court noted the Seventh Circuit held that Congress did not intend for the AWA to preempt or ban state legislation, like the Wildlife Code, that regulates wild animals. Tranchita also asserts that the Hound Running Permit requirement violates her rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The court found that Hound Running Permit requirement is neutral and generally applicable and is rationally related to a legitimate government interest" (i.e., regulating who can keep coyotes (and where) in that it requires an individual who wants to raise a coyote to do so on at least ten contiguous acres of land). Because the Hound Running Permit requirement appears to be supported by a rational basis, Tranchita is not likely to succeed on her Free Exercise claim. Finally, Tranchita brings claims for procedural and substantive due process violations. The court stated that, to succeed on this contention, Plaintiff must provide something that happened after April 2019 that could arguably return her property interest in Luna or provide her with a new, independent property interest in Luna. However, the court found that Plaintiff did not have a property interest in Luna at the time of the seizure because she did not have a Breeder Permit at that time. Because Tranchita has not demonstrated that she is likely to establish a protected property interest in Luna, she has failed to show that she is likely to succeed on either due process claim based on this interest. Tranchita's argument that her current Breeder Permit (issued without the concomitant Hound Running Permit by Illinois) protects her property interest also failed to persuade the court because the law states that "[n]o fur-bearing mammal breeder permits will be issued to hold, possess, or engage in the breeding and raising of striped skunks acquired after July 1, 1975, or coyotes acquired after July 1, 1978, except for coyotes that are held or possessed by a person who holds a hound running area permit under Section 3.26 of this Act." That granting of the Breeder Permit without the necessary Hound Running Permit required by law led Tranchita to her last argument: "the IDNR's custom and policy of issuing her Breeder Permits and allowing her to keep coyotes without a Hound Running Permit created an entitlement to possess a coyote based on a Breeder Permit alone." In fact, Tranchita points out that IDNR issued her a Breeder Permit on several separate occasions without requiring her to first have a Hound Running Permit while she already possessed coyotes. The court noted that a protected property interest may “arise from mutually explicit understandings," but the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the existence of a mutually explicit understanding. Here, the Court was "skeptical" that sufficient evidence existed to demonstrate a department-wide custom or policy. In essence, the court found Tranchita had no likelihood of succeeding on the merits of the claims. The court did briefly engage in addressing the preliminary injunction factors. With regard to her claim that she will suffer irreparable harm in the form of Luna's imminent death, the court noted that the harm must be "likely" rather than just "possible." Tranchita's delay in seeking preliminary injunctive relief (four months after she withdrew her state court claims) undermines her irreparable harm argument. While the court was sympathetic and concludes that Luna's death would constitute irreparable harm to Plaintiff, it was not enough to persuade the court that death is likely absent the issuance of a TRO or injunction. Finally, on balancing the harms and public interests, the court found they do not weigh decidedly in Plaintiff's favor. Thus, the court denied Tranchita's motion for a TRO and preliminary injunction.
Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Reynolds --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2022 WL 777231 (S.D. Iowa Mar. 14, 2022) Plaintiffs, five non-profit organizations dedicated to animal protection, food safety, and other advocacy issues, filed suit challenging Iowa Code § 717.3B, which they contend infringes on their constitutional rights. Specifically, these organizations contend that Iowa's new "ag-gag" law criminalizes their actions in gathering information through undercover investigations at animal production facilities. These organizations must misrepresent or conceal their identities to gather gather evidence of animal abuse and other alleged illegal conduct in day-to-day activities at facilities where they suspect wrongdoing occurs. Iowa Code § 717A.3B is the second in a series of laws passed by the Iowa legislature aimed at criminalizing undercover investigations such as the ones conducted by Plaintiffs. The previous law was challenged by these same plaintiffs and a permanent injunction was passed by the United States District Court. The defendants challenged the injunction in the Eighth Circuit, but before that was decided, the Iowa legislature passed the new section (§ 717A.3B). Here, both parties have filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. Plaintiffs contend that the new law violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution because it discriminates based on content and viewpoint and cannot survive strict scrutiny. Defendants argue that the law does not regulate protected speech under the First Amendment or, if it does regulate protected speech, it is content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral and passes intermediate scrutiny. The court first noted that the issue with § 717A.3B, and other laws aimed at prohibiting trespassers at agricultural facilities, is the law seeks to single out specific individuals for punishment based on their viewpoint regarding such facilities. This law operates in a viewpoint discriminatory fashion because it prohibits the deceptive trespasser who gains access or obtain employment at an agricultural facility with the intent to cause “economic harm ... to the agricultural production facility's ... business interest" as opposed to trespassers with an intent to benefit the facility. Thus, Section 717A.3B does not focus solely on the right to exclude, the legally cognizable harm of trespass, but only on the right to exclude those with particular viewpoints. While the court noted that a state legislature may determine whether specific facilities—such as agricultural facilities, nuclear power plants, military bases, or other sensitive buildings—are entitled to special legal protections, the First Amendment does not allow those protections to be based on a violator's viewpoint. Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment was granted and Defendant's was denied.
Terranova v. United States Dep't of Agric. --- Fed.Appx. ----, 2020 WL 4589346 (5th Cir. Aug. 10, 2020) Petitioners seek review of a decision and order of the USDA/APHIS determining that they violated various provisions of the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) and its implementing regulations, imposing civil penalties, and revoking the exhibitor license granted to Terranova Enterprises, Inc. Petitioners were licensees who provide wild animals like tigers and monkeys for movies, circuses, and other entertainment. In 2015 and 2016, APHIS filed complaints against petitioners that they willfully violated multiple provisions of the AWA and knowingly violated a cease and desist order issued in 2011 to avoid future violations of the AWA. After consolidating the complaints, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found that petitioners willfully committed four violations, so the ALJ issued a cease and desist order, suspended petitioners' license for 30 days, and assessed a $10,000 penalty and an $11,550 civil penalty for failing to obey the prior cease and desist order. On appeal by both parties to the Judicial Officer of the USDA, petitioners' exhibitor license was revoked and the penalties were increased to $35,000 and $14,850, respectively. On appeal here to the Fifth Circuit, petitioners claim that the determinations of the Judicial Officer were not supported by substantial evidence and that she abused her discretion in revoking their exhibitor license. This court found there was sufficient evidence to support the violations, including failing to allow APHIS officials to conduct compliance investigations and inspections, faulty tiger enclosures, insufficient distance/barriers between tigers and the public, failure to make an environmental enrichment plan, and failings involving tiger enclosure and protection from inclement weather, among other things. With regard to petitioners' claim that the Judicial Officer abused her discretion in revoking the exhibitor license, this court court found that petitioners committed more than one willful violation of the AWA so revocation was not unwarranted or without justification. The court concluded that the USDA Secretary’s order was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law, and that it was supported by substantial evidence. Therefore, the court denied the petition for review.
Kanoa Inc., v. Clinton 1 F. Supp. 2d 1088 (1998)

Plaintiff cruise company filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to halt scientific research of the defendant government, alleging standing under the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), the Marine Mammal Protection Act ("MMPA"), and the Endangered Species Act ("ESA").

Toney v. Glickman 101 F.3d 1236 (8th Cir., 1996) Plaintiffs were in the business of selling animals to research facilities. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that they had committed hundreds of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131 et seq. The ALH then imposed what was, to that point, the harshest sanction, $200,000, in the history of the Act. The Judicial Officer affirmed the ALJ's findings and denied the Plaintiffs' request to reopen the hearing for consideration of new evidence. While the 8th Circuit affirmed most of these findings, it held that the evidence did not support all of them. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter to the Department for redetermination of the sanction. The court also affirmed the Judicial Officer's refusal to reopen the hearing and denied the Plaintiffs' Request for Leave to Adduce Additional Evidence. The Plaintiffs were free, however, to seek leave to offer this additional evidence on remand to the extent it was relevant to the sanction.
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.

United States Association of Reptile Keepers, Inc. v. Jewell 103 F. Supp. 3d 133 (D.D.C. 2015) On a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin implementation of the 2015 Rule (80 Fed.Reg. 12702 ), the US District Court for the District of Columbia addressed whether the U.S. Department of Interior acted within its authority when it issued Lacey Act regulations prohibiting the interstate transportation of certain large constricting snakes. The United States Association of Reptile Keepers argued that since the Lacey Act “[did] not encompass transportation of listed species between two states within the continental United States,” the Department of Interior exceeded its authority. Relying on the history of zebra mussels and bighead carp, the Department argued that it did not. The Court, however, found the Department had failed to establish that that history was sufficient to confer an authority on the Department that Congress did not confer when it enacted the controlling statutory text. The Court ruled the preliminary injunction would issue and ordered the parties to appear for a status conference on May 18, 2015 to address the scope of the injunction.
United States v. Bramble 103 F.3d 1475 (9th Cir. 1996)

During a search related to a controlled substances violation, undercover agents seized eagle feathers from defendant.  The court held that Congress exercised valid Commerce Clause power in enacting the BGEPA, as the incentive of interstate commerce in eagle parts would threaten eagles to extinction, thus depleting the future commercial potential of activities such as eagle-based tourism and educational research.  For discussion on the Eagle Act and the Commerce Clause, see Detailed Discussion .

Missouri Pet Breeders Association v. County of Cook 106 F. Supp. 3d 908 (N.D. Ill. 2015) Cook County passed an ordinance that required a “pet shop operator” to only sell animals obtained from a breeder that (among other requirements) held a USDA class “A” license and owned or possessed no more than 5 female dogs, cats, or rabbits capable of reproduction in any 12-month period. Plaintiffs, a professional pet organization and three Cook County pet shops and their owners, sued Cook County government officials, alleging that the ordinance violated the United States and Illinois Constitutions. Defendants moved to dismiss the action. After concluding that plaintiffs had standing to pursue all of their claims, with the exception of the Foreign Commerce Claim, the Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss all claims, but gave Plaintiffs a chance to cure their complaint's defects by amendment.
Japan Whaling Association v. American Cetacean Society 106 S. Ct. 2860 (1986)

Congress had granted the Secretary the authority to determine whether a foreign nation's whaling in excess of quotas diminished the effectiveness of the IWC, and the Court found no reason to impose a mandatory obligation upon the Secretary to certify that every quota violation necessarily failed that standard.

Maine v. Taylor 106 S.Ct. 2440 (1986)

Appellee bait dealer (appellee) arranged to have live baitfish imported into Maine, despite a Maine statute prohibiting such importation. He was indicted under a federal statute making it a federal crime to transport fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law. He moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the Maine statute unconstitutionally burdened interstate commerce.  The Court held that the ban did not violate the commerce clause in that it served legitimate local purpose, i.e., protecting native fisheries from parasitic infection and adulteration by non-native species, that could not adequately be served by available nondiscriminatory alternatives.

U.S. v. Hugs 109 F.3d 1375 (9th Cir. 1997)

Defendants shot and sold bald eagles to undercover officers posing as big game hunters in Montana.  On appeal, the court denied their claims against the permit system, finding that they lacked standing to challenge the permit system where they failed to apply for permits.  With regard to a facial challenge to the statute, the court held that the BGEPA passed the RFRA test, where the government asserted a compelling interest that was effectuated in the least restrictive means.  For further discussion on commerce in eagle parts, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

U.S. v. Okelberry 112 F. Supp. 2d 1246 (D. Utah 2000)

Defense counsel not deemed ineffective for failing to advise defendant that a conviction under the BGEPA could result in loss of grazing rights.

Newton County Wildlife Ass'n v. U.S. Forest Service 113 F.3d 110 (8th Cir. 1997) Newton County Wildlife Association sued the United States Forest Service seeking judicial review of four timber sales in the Ozark National Forest. The Wildlife Association filed sequential motions to preliminarily enjoin the sales as violative of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The district court1 separately denied each motion, and the Wildlife Association separately appealed those orders. The Court held that because the Forest Service may limit WSRA plans to lands lying within designated river segments, failure to timely prepare the Plans cannot be a basis for enjoining timber sales on lands lying outside any designated area. With respect to the MBTA, the Court held that "it would stretch this 1918 statute far beyond the bounds of reason to construe it as an absolute criminal prohibition on conduct, such as timber harvesting, that indirectly results in the death of migratory birds." Therefore, the Court affirmed the district court's denial of injunctive relief.
Supreme Beef Processors, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 113 F.Supp.2d 1048 (N.D.Tex.,2000)

North Federal District Court of Texas ruled that the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) only empowered the Food Safety and Inspection Services to prevent the United States Department of Agriculture from allowing companies to sell adulterated meat to the public. To find meat adulterated under FMIA requires that the processor's plants conditions are insanitary, thus the FSIS should focus on the manufacturing process and not the final product to determine that a plant is insanitary.

United States of America v. Hale 113 Fed.Appx. 108

A couple owned and operated a caviar business.  They were convicted of violating the Lacey Act by purchasing and selling paddlefish eggs during the closed season, falsifying records and operating a fish dealership without a license.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.  This Judgment was Vacated by Hale v. U.S ., 125 S.Ct. 2914 (2005).

Friends of Animals v. Jewell 115 F. Supp. 3d 107 (D.D.C. 2015) Friends of Animals (FOA) filed a citizen petition under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to get the Department of Interior to determine whether the spider tortoise and flat-tail tortoise were endangered species. After waiting two years for an answer, FOA filed suit, arguing the Department’s silence had caused the group various injuries. The district court, however, found the supposed harms did not rise to the level of “concrete and particularized” injuries in fact, and granted the Department's motion to dismiss FOA's complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
U.S. v. Lopez (Abridged for Purposes of Eagle Topic Area) 115 S.Ct. 1624 (1995)

Laws governing intrastate activities will be upheld if they substantially affect interstate commerce.  Under the Eagle Act, the power to regulate eagles has been summarily upheld as a valid exercise of commerce power, as it protects the eagle as a species by preventing the creation of a legal commercial market for the animal.  For further discussion of the Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion.

Puppies 'N Love, v. City of Phoenix 116 F. Supp. 3d 971 (D. Ariz. 2015) Defendant City of Phoenix passed an ordinance that prohibited pet stores from selling dogs or cats obtained from persons or companies that bred animals; pet stores could only sell animals obtained from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Puppies 'N Love operated a pet store in Phoenix that sold purebred dogs obtained from out-of-state breeders. Puppies 'N Love and its owners sued the City, claiming primarily that the Ordinance violated the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by closing the Phoenix market to out-of-state breeders and giving an economic advantage to local breeders. All parties, including Intervenor Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”), filed motions for summary judgment. The District Court granted the Intervenor’s and the city’s motions, but denied Puppies ‘N Love’s motion, thereby upholding the ordinance.
Lesher v. Reed 12 F.3d 148 (8th Cir. 1994)

Seizure of pet dog violated Fourth Amendment where police acted unreasonably in going to canine police officer's house to seize the dog after the dog bit a child.

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