Federal Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
Buffalo Field Campaign v. Zinke 289 F.Supp.3d 103 (D.D.C. Jan. 31, 2018) Plaintiffs Buffalo Field Campaign and other environmental groups petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") to add the Yellowstone bison population to the federal endangered species list. After the Service made a threshold “90–day” determination that Buffalo Field's petition failed to present sufficient scientific evidence that listing the bison may be warranted, Buffalo Field brought suit under the Administrative Procedure Act, alleging that the Service's determination was arbitrary and capricious. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Service applied an improper standard when evaluating Buffalo Field's petition, granted Buffalo Field's motion for summary judgment, denied the Service's cross-motion, and remanded the case for the agency to conduct a new 90–day finding using the proper standard. In particular, the court observed that the Service "simply picked a side in an ongoing debate in the scientific community," thereby in inappropriately heightening the standard of evaluation for a 90-day petition. Because of that, the court agreed with the Service that remand is the appropriate remedy as opposed to to directing the Service to begin a 12-month review.
Bundorf v. Jewell 142 F.Supp.3d 1133 (D.Nevada,2015) Plaintiffs, individuals and environmental organizations, challenged a decision by the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) to authorize two rights-of-way for the Searchlight Wind Energy Project (“Project”) in southern Nevada (on BLM land) under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). After the District Court remanded to the BLM for further explanation, the plaintiffs moved for a permanent injunction. Plaintiffs raised claims that the activity violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), among other federal statutes. In effect, the plaintiffs argue that when the Court remanded for further explanation, it essentially reached the merits of their NEPA and ESA claims "by identifying explanatory gaps in the Remand Order." This then necessitated vacatur of the Record of Decision (“ROD”), Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”), and the Biological Opinion (“BiOp”). On appeal, the Court agreed with plaintiffs that clarification of the Remand Order is appropriate to include the ROD, the FEIS, and the BiOp with vacatur. Otherwise, the court notes, the Federal Defendants would get "two bites at the same apple . . . to fill the analytical gaps the Court identified in the Remand Order." The Federal Defendants must address the gaps related to: "(1) the density of desert tortoises, the adverse effects on desert tortoise habitat due to noise, and the remuneration fees and blasting mitigation measures for desert tortoises; (2) the status of FWS's recommendations regarding eagle take permitting and an Eagle Conservation Plan; and (3) BLM's conclusions about risks to bald eagles, protocols for golden eagle surveys, and risks to and mitigation measures for bat species."
Cabinet Resource Group v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 465 F.Supp.2d 1067 (D. Mont. 2006)

The Forest Service builds roads in National Forests, and has to determine what density of road coverage is safe for grizzly bear survival in making its Land Use Plan. Here, the Land Use Plan did not violate the Endangered Species Act, because an agency action is not required to help the survival of an endangered species, it simply may not reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the endangered species, grizzly bears. However, because the Forest Service relied upon a scientific study with acknowledged weaknesses to make its road standards, but failed to adequately address those weaknesses in its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Forest Service violated NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).

Californians for Humane Farms v. Schafer Slip Copy, 2008 WL 4449583 (N.D.Cal.) (Not Reported in F.Supp.2d)

Plaintiff, a nonprofit ballot committee established to sponsor Proposal 2, a State ballot initiative that would result in prohibiting the tethering and confinement of egg laying hens and other farm animals, brought an action against Defendant, the United States Secretary of Agriculture, alleging a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, after Defendant approved a decision by the American Egg Board (the “Egg Board”) to set aside $3 million for a consumer education campaign to educate consumers about current production practices.   The United States District Court, N.D. California granted Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction, finding that Plaintiff was likely to succeed on the merits, direct harm to Plaintiff was likely to occur if the injunction was not granted, and that the public interest would be served by granting the preliminary injunction.

Callahan v. Woods 736 F.2d 1269 (9th Cir. 1984)

Plaintiff alleged the requirement that his infant daughter receive a social security number as a prerequisite to obtain public benefits infringed on his free exercise of religion.  Since the court held that the the social security number requirement substantially interfered with plaintiff's free exercise of religious beliefs, the compelling interest test was applied to determine constitutionality of the regulation.  This substantial burden/compelling interest test became the model for infringement of religious exercise claims, including those under the BGEPA.  For application of this test to religious challenges to the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

Campbell v. Supervalu 2007 WL 891682 (N.D.Ind.) North District Court of Indiana dismissed a claim that Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) preempted the plaintiff's state law claims. While a past court decision held that FMIA preempted state attempts to regulate meat inspection, this case was distinguishable because the suit focused on an alleged act of negligence that fell outside inspection of meat and because the state is not placing additional or different requirements then those set by FMIA.
Carl v. Resnick 714 N.E.2d 1 (Ill. 1999)

In this Illinois case, plaintiff Judy Carl was riding her horse on a trail in the Cook County Forest Preserve when the horse upon which defendant was riding pinned its ears back, turned its body toward plaintiff's horse, and kicked plaintiff and her horse. One hoof struck plaintiff's leg, causing her injury.  In interpreting the state's Equine Act, the court observed that plaintiff's complaint against defendant was not barred by the Equine Act unless plaintiff's recreational riding of her own horse on a public trail was one of the limited activities sought to be encouraged by the Act.  After determining that there was no conflict between the Illinois EALA and Animal Control Act, the court reversed the trial court's order denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and entered summary judgment for plaintiff on Count I as to liability under the Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/16 (West 1995)).

Carpenters Indus. Council v. Salazar 734 F.Supp.2d 126 (D.D.C., 2010)

Plaintiffs, Carpenters Industrial Council, among several, averred that the FWS, in designating the owl as a "threatened species," violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the ESA, and the Administrative Procedure Act. Defendant, the FWS, confess legal error as to the northern spotted owl’s 2008 Critical Habitat Designation and 2008 Recovery Plan and ask that the court: (1) remand and vacate the 2008 Designation; (2) remand the 2008 Plan; and (3) order the FWS to revise its recovery plan and, if necessary, thereafter complete a new critical habitat designation. First, as to Defendant’s request to remand the designation, the court held that it, in fact, has such authority to do so, and such action is moreover appropriate, since the Washington Oversight Committee erred in proffering "jeopardizing" advice to the FWS. However, as to the whether the 2008 Designation may be vacated, the court concluded that it lacked the authority to do so "at this stage of the litigation." As to whether the 2008 Recovery Plan may be vacated, the court held that, given the interconnectedness of the 2008 Designation and the 2008 Plan, remand is appropriate.

Carroll v. Cnty. of Monroe 712 F.3d 649 (2d Cir. 2013) The Plaintiff-Appellant appeals a decision/order by the lower court to deny her motion to set aside the jury verdict or grant a new trial. At the original trial, a jury found plaintiff failed to prove her 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim that the shooting of her dog during the execution of a search warrant was an unconstitutional seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiff's dog was shot during a "no-knock" search warrant at plaintiff's residence, but the warrant team was aware that a dog would be present during the search. On appeal, this court held that the plaintiff was not entitled to a new trial because she failed to provide any “legally sufficient evidentiary basis” to show that the jury would find in her favor. The court believed that it was unlikely that a jury would find in her favor because of the fact that the dog was killed during a “no-knock” search of the home and the dog “quickly and aggressively” ran towards the police officer after he entered the home. Although the court agreed that the officers should have advised a plan to deal with the dog in a non-lethal way, it maintained that a jury would unlikely find that the officer’s use of force was unreasonable given the circumstances of this case. Affirmed.
Carroll v. County of Monroe 712 F.3d 649 (2nd Cir. 2013) Upon executing a no-knock warrant by using a battering ram to break through the front door of the plaintiff’s home, police encountered the plaintiff’s dog. An officer claimed the dog was growling, barking, and quickly and aggressively approaching him. He then fired one shot from his shotgun, striking the dog and killing him. Prior to the execution of the warrant, the officers were aware that a dog would be present and did not discuss a plan for controlling the dog or neutralizing the dog by any non-lethal means. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the police officers and municipality, alleging violations of her Fourth Amendment rights. The court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgement and held that the issue of whether the officer acted reasonably was a question for the jury.
Castillo Condominium Ass'n v. U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development 821 F.3d 92 (1st Cir. 2016) In 2010, the Castillo Condominium Association learned that Carlo Giménez Bianco (Giménez), a condominium resident, was keeping a dog on the premises and warned him that he would be fined unless he removed the dog. Giménez, who suffered from anxiety and depression, advised the board of directors that he planned to keep his emotional support dog and that he was entitled to do so under federal law. As a result of the conflict, Giménez was forced to vacate and sell his unit and he filed a complaint of disability discrimination with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD filed a charge of discrimination against the Association under the Fair Housing Act. An administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that the Association had not violated the Act because Giménez failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he suffered from a mental impairment. The ALJ’s decision was appealed to the Secretary, who found that Gimenez suffered from a cognizable disability. The Court of Appeals, First Circuit, held that substantial evidence supported the Secretary's finding that the Association's refusal to allow Gimenez to keep an emotional support dog in his condominium unit as a reasonable accommodation for his disability violated the Fair Housing Act. The Association’s petition for review was denied and the Secretary’s cross petition was granted.
Cavel Intern., Inc. v. Madigan 500 F.3d 551 (7th Cir. 2007)

The issue on appeal was whether Illinois' prohibition of horsemeat for human consumption was preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) or in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause.  The court held that the statute was neither preempted nor in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause

Center for Biological Diversity v. Badgley 335 F.3d 1097 (C.A.9 (Or.),2003)

The Center for Biological Diversity and eighteen other nonprofit organizations appealed the district court's summary judgment in favor of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Center claimed the Secretary of the Interior violated the Endangered Species Act by making an erroneous, arbitrary, and capricious determination that listing the Northern Goshawk (a short-winged, long-tailed hawk that lives in forested regions of higher latitude in the northern hemisphere and is often considered an indicator species) in the contiguous United States west of the 100th meridian as a threatened or endangered species was not warranted.  In the absence of evidence that the goshawk is endangered or likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, the court found the FWS's decision was not arbitrary or capricious and affirmed the summary disposition.

Center for Biological Diversity v. California Fish & Game Com'n 2008 WL 4055216 (Cal. App. 3 Dist.)

The California Fish & Game Commission (Commission) rejected a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (Center) to add the California tiger salamander to the Commission’s list of endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), on grounds that the petition lacked sufficient information to indicate that the listing may be warranted. The Court of Appeal, Third District, California, held that the Trial Court did not err in directing the Commission to enter a decision accepting the Center’s petition, as inferences drawn from evidence offered in support of the petition clearly afforded sufficient information to indicate that listing action may be warranted. The Court found that information in the administrative record indicating that the salamander species “does not breed prolifically, is vulnerable to several significant threats, has lost most of its original habitat, and has been displaced by a hybrid from a significant portion of its range” was not outweighed by the Commission’s evidence and arguments regarding the introduction of artificial ponds which could provide increased breeding habitat, and the listing of the species under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Chertoff Slip Copy, 2009 WL 839042 (N.D.Cal.)

Plaintiff, the Center for Biological Diversity, brought an action against Defendant, the United States Coast Guard, alleging that Defendant violated the ESA by failing to consult with the NMFS to ensure that Defendant’s activities in the Santa Barbara Channel and other shipping lanes off the California Coast would not harm the continued existence of threatened and/or endangered species after Defendant amended Traffic Separation Schemes (“TSS”) and a number of blue whales were subsequently struck by ships and killed.   On the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment, the United States District Court , N.D. California dismissed Plaintiff’s claims pertaining to Defendant’s implementation of or actions under the TSS in the approaches to Los Angeles – Long Beach and granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment with respect to Defendant’s alleged violations of the ESA arising out of Defendant’s implementation of or actions under the TSS in the Santa Barbara Channel.

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.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Henson Slip Copy, 2009 WL 1882827 (D.Or.)

Defendants brought a motion to stay in an action brought by Plaintiffs seeking re-initiation of consultation under ESA with respect to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Habitat Conservation Plan promulgated in 1995 and their Incidental Take Permit obtained in 1995, which allows incidental taking of Northern Spotted Owls for sixty years in connection with timber harvest in the Elliot State Forest.  The United States District Court granted Defendants’ motion, finding that the potential harm and likelihood of damage to Plaintiffs if the action is stayed is low. The court also found that Defendants showed an adequate likelihood of hardship in having to go forward without a stay. The stay would likely result in the action ultimately becoming moot and/or at the very least greatly simplified, therefore saving judicial time and resources.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne 2008 WL 1902703 (N.D.Cal. 2008)

Plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) seeks to compel Defendants to perform their mandatory duty under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to publish a final listing determination for the polar bear. Plaintiffs have filed a summary judgment motion seeking an injunction and declaratory judgment to this effect. The action began back in 2005 when CBD petitioned to list the polar bear as endangered under the ESA.  Plaintiffs' action arises from Defendants' failure to issue a final listing determination and critical habitat designation by January 9, 2008-within one year of publication of the proposed rule-as required by the ESA (16 U.S.C. § 1533(b)(6)). Since Defendants missed this non-discretionary deadline, and there was no dispute of material fact, summary judgment was granted by the court.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne 2008 WL 4542947 (N.D.Cal.)

Plaintiffs brought various claims against Defendants relating to Defendants’ final rule designating the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Defendants’ promulgation of a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA, allowing certain activities with respect to the polar bear that might otherwise be prohibited.   The United States District Court, N.D. California tentatively granted a non-profit organization’s motion to intervene with respect to the action challenging Defendants’ section 4(d) rule as contrary to the ESA, finding that although the Organization did not show that the current Plaintiffs will not adequately represent the Organization’s interest, a decision for Defendants could jeopardize the Organization’s interests and the Organization’s motion was timely.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne Slip Copy, 2008 WL 4543043 (N.D.Cal.)

In an action alleging multiple violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) pursuant to Defendants’ final rule designating the polar bear as threatened and promulgation of a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA, Defendants Kempthorne and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service brought a motion to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Intervenor-Defendant Arctic Slope Regional Corporation brought a separate motion to transfer the case to the District of Alaska, and Intervenor-Defendant Alaska Oil and Gas Association filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL Panel) seeking to transfer the case to the D.C. District Court .   The United States District Court, N.D. California denied the motion to transfer the case to the District of Alaska, and decided to take the motion to transfer to the District of Columbia into submission and rule on it once the MDL Panel has issued its decision on whether to transfer the case to the District of Columbia.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne 607 F.Supp.2d 1078 (D.Ariz.,2009)

Cross motions for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ claim against Defendants, the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, alleging that the Secretary’s failure to designate critical habitat and prepare a recovery plan for the jaguar was unlawful under the ESA.   The United States District Court, D. Arizona granted Plaintiffs’ motion in part and denied Plaintiffs’ motion in part, finding that Defendants’ determination that designation of a critical habitat would not be prudent must be set aside because it did not appear to be based on the best scientific evidence available as required by the ESA, and that Defendants’ determination not to prepare a recovery plan must also be set aside and remanded for further consideration because the determination was inconsistent with Defendants’ own policy guidance and long-standing practice concerning the distinction between foreign and domestic species.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Lohn 483 F.3d 984 (C.A.9 (Wash.), 2007)

This case questions whether the federal government's policy for listing killer whales under the Endangered Species Act is invalid. The Fish and Wildlife Service initially issued a proposed ruling that listing the Southern Resident was “not warranted” because the Southern Resident was not “significant” to its taxon. The district court set aside the Service's “not warranted” finding, and ordered the Service to reexamine whether the Southern Resident should be listed as an endangered species and to issue a new finding within twelve months. After again being challenged by plaintiff, the Service issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered (as opposed to threatened) species. The Service contends that this case is now moot because it has, since the district court's decision, issued a proposed rule that recommended listing the Southern Resident as a threatened species and ultimately has issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered species. This court agreed, and thus vacated the district court's order and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the case as moot.

Center For Biological Diversity v. Lohn 511 F.3d 960 (C.A.9 (Wash.), 2007)

In this case, the court is asked to decide whether the federal government's policy for listing killer whales under the Endangered Species Act is invalid. The Center for Biological Diversity, along with eleven co-petitioners not parties to this appeal, petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the Southern Resident killer whale as an endangered species under the ESA. Initially, the Service issued a proposed ruling based on its DPS policy that concluded listing the Southern Resident was “not warranted” because the Southern Resident was not “significant” to its taxon. After the Center challenged this action, the district court set aside the Service's “not warranted” finding because it failed to utilize the best available scientific data when determining whether the Southern Resident was “significant” under that policy. Pursuant to the district court's order, the Service reexamined the listing petition and issued a proposed rule that recommended listing the Southern Resident as a threatened species. The Center appealed, and the Service issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as endangered (as opposed to threatened). The Service contends that this case is now moot because it has ultimately issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered species. This court agreed, finding that declaring the DPS Policy unlawful would serve no purpose in this case because the Service has listed the Southern Resident as an endangered species, the Center's ultimate objective.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Lubchenco 758 F.Supp.2d 945 (N.D.Cal., 2010)
In this civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief, the court found that Defendants did not violate the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) in failing to list the ribbon seal as threatened or endangered due to shrinking sea ice habitat essential to the species’ survival. Defendants did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in concluding that the impact of Russia’s commercial harvest on the ribbon seal was low, that 2050 was the “foreseeable future” due to uncertainty about global warming and ocean acidification farther into the future, or its choice of scientific and commercial data to use. The Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and granted Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Morgenweck 351 F.Supp.2d (D. Co. 2004)

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service completed a review of an environmental group petition that requested the Yellowstone cutthroat trout be listed as an endangered species.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service refused to list the fish as an endangered species and the environmental group brought an action to set aside the agency's findings.  The District Court held in favor of the environmental group reasoning the agency's rejection of the petition was arbitrary and capricious and the review of the petition was not conducted properly.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton 240 F.Supp.2d 1090 (D.Ariz. 2003)

This lawsuit arises out of the Fish and Wildlife Service's ("FWS") designation of approximately 30% of the critical habitat originally proposed for the Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida ) under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA").  In analyzing the FWS's decision under both the standard of review for the APA and the deference afforded by the Chevron standard, the court found that the FWS's interpretation of "critical habitat" was "nonsensical."  It is not determinative whether the habitat requires special management, but, pursuant to the ESA, it is whether the habitat is "essential to the conservation of the species" and special management of that habitat is possibly necessary.   Thus, defendant's interpretation of the ESA received no deference by the court and the court found defendant's application of the ESA unlawful, as Defendant and FWS have been repeatedly told by federal courts that the existence of other habitat protections does not relieve Defendant from designating critical habitat.  The court found that the FWS's Final Rule violated both the ESA and the APA in implementing its regulations.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar Slip Copy, 2011 WL 6000497 (D.Ariz.)

Plaintiffs filed action against Interior and FWS to set aside FWS's finding that the desert bald eagle does not qualify as a distinct population segment (“DPS”) entitled to protection under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Plaintiff's motions for summary judgment was granted. The Court found that FWS' 12–month finding was based on the 2007 delisting rule, which failed to comport with the notice, comment, and consultation requirements of the ESA. The Court set aside the 12–month finding as an abuse of discretion.

Center For Biological Diversity v. Scarlett 452 F.Supp.2d 966 (N.D.Cal., 2006)

Plaintiffs Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, Sierra Club, John Muir Project, Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife move for an award of attorney fees and costs pursuant to § 11(g)(4) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 USC § 1540(g)(4), in connection with their efforts to have the California spotted owl listed as endangered. The Court denied the Center's motion

for attorney fees because they failed to realize the goals of their lawsuit.

Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 450 F.3d 930 (9th Cir. 2006)

The issue in this case is whether the Endangered Species Act requires the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to complete formal designation of critical habitat for an endangered fish species , the threespine stickleback ("stickleback"), a small, scaleless freshwater fish, as an endangered species in 1970 under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), listed over thirty-five years ago. In 1990, the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") awarded CEMEX, Inc., a contract to mine fifty-six million tons of sand and gravel from a location in Los Angeles County's Soledad Canyon. Although the mining would not take place within the stickleback's habitat, the project involves pumping water from the Santa Clara River and could cause portions of the river to run dry periodically. Parts of the Santa Clara River commonly dry out during the summer season, trapping stickleback in isolated pools. The Center for Biological Diversity ("CBD") filed suit in 2002, claiming that the Service violated the ESA by failing to complete the designation of critical habitat for the stickleback. In affirming the lower court's decision, the Ninth Circuit, held that it was not arbitrary and capricious for the Service to decide not to designate critical habitat for the stickleback. The Service was not required to ensure compliance with federal and state laws before issuing an ITS (incidental take statement) to CEMEX, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in striking extra-record exhibits offered to establish a new rationale for attacking the Service's decision.

Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 342 F.Supp.3d 968 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 21, 2018) Center for Biological Diversity ("CBD") filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief under the Endangered Species Act, seeking protection for the Pacific fisher (a medium-sized brown mammal in the weasel family found only in North America). All parties moved for summary judgment. The CBD was the party that submitted the original petition to list this distinct population segment as endangered in 2000 (after various petitions were filed since 1990 with no action). In 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (the "Service") publicly proposed to list the Pacific fisher as threatened and sought public comment. In April 2016, the Service withdrew the proposed listing, finding that: populations will persist in the future; wildfires will have beneficial consequences; there "may be" breeding and interchange with other populations; and there were only a small number of confirmed deaths due to toxicosis from anticoagulant rodenticides. Plaintiffs now challenge that listing reversal as arbitrary and capricious, and seek an order requiring the Service to publish a new rule within 90 days based on “the best scientific and commercial data available." This court first examined the effect of anticoagulant rodenticides on the Pacific fisher. The court found the Service's assessment of the increase of the emerging threat from toxicosis was arbitrary and capricious, and that the Service "cherry picked" the Gabriel study to say that the study was uncertain. As to population trends, the court found that the Service based its conclusion on limited and inconclusive trend data and ignored the studies' conclusions. In fact, the court stated, "[h]ere, the absence of conclusive evidence of Pacific fisher persistence does not stand alone. The Service does not dispute that the Pacific fisher population has declined dramatically." In the end, the court granted plaintiff CBD motion for summary judgment and denied defendant Service's motion. The court directed the Service to prepare a new rule by March 22, 2019 (which denied plaintiff's motion for a 90-day rule and also denied the Service's request to "brief the timeline in order to evaluate staffing and budget constraints").
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.
Cetacean Cmty. v. President of the United States 249 F. Supp. 2d 1206 (D.C. Hawaii, 2003) Plaintiff, a community of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, sued Defendants, the President of the United States and the United States Secretary of Defense, alleging violations of the (NEPA), the (APA), the (ESA), and the (MMPA).  The Plaintffs were concerned with the United States Navy's development and use of a low frequency active sonar (LFAS) system. The community alleged a failure to comply with statutory requirements with respect to LFAS use during threat and warfare conditions.
Cetacean Community v. Bush 386 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 2004)

In this case, the court was asked to decide whether the world's cetaceans have standing to bring suit in their own name under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.  The Cetaceans challenge the United States Navy's use of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active Sonar ("SURTASS LFAS") during wartime or heightened threat conditions.  In finding that the Cetaceans lacked standing, the court here agreed with the district court in Citizens to End Animal Suffering & Exploitation, Inc., that "[i]f Congress and the President intended to take the extraordinary step of authorizing animals as well as people and legal entities to sue, they could, and should, have said so plainly." 836 F.Supp. at 49.  In the absence of any such statement in the ESA, the MMPA, or NEPA, or the APA, the court concluded that the Cetaceans do not have statutory standing to sue.

Chadd v. U.S. 794 F.3d 1104 (9th Cir. 2015) The issue in this case was whether the United States may be sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for the actions of the National Park Service (NPS) relating to a mountain goat that attacked and killed a Park visitor. Wife of the visitor, on her own behalf and as representative of his estate, sued the NPS, claiming officials breached their duty of reasonable care by failing to destroy the goat in the years leading up to her husband’s death. The District Court dismissed the case due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On appeal, the court sought to determine whether an exception to the FTCA’s waiver of sovereign immunity applied. The court found the NPS’s management policies manual did not direct or mandate the NPS to take action to kill the mountain goat, and thus the NPS's management of the goat fell within the discretionary function exception. Further, the NPS’s decision to use non-lethal methods to manage a mountain was susceptible to policy analysis, which fell within the discretionary exception as well. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed. Senior Circuit Judge Kleinfield filed a dissenting opinion.
Chavez v. Aber 122 F. Supp. 3d 581 (W.D. Tex. 2015) Plaintiffs sought damages stemming from Defendants' refusal to accommodate Plaintiffs’ minor son's mental health disabilities by allowing Plaintiffs to keep a mixed-breed pit bull as an emotional support animal in their rented duplex. Plaintiffs asserted (1) housing discrimination under the Federal Housing Act (“FHA”), (2) unlawful retaliation under the FHA, (3) discrimination under the Texas Fair Housing Act (“TFHA”), and (4) unlawful retaliation under § 92.331 of the Texas Property Code. Defendants filed the Motion, seeking dismissal of the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The court found Plaintiffs had adequately pleaded all claims and denied the Defendant’s motion to dismiss.
Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah 508 U.S. 520 (1993)

Local ordinance prohibiting animal sacrifices under the guise of an anti-cruelty concern was an unconstitutional infringement on church's First Amendment rights because (1) ordinances were not neutral; (2) ordinances were not of general applicability; and (3) governmental interest assertedly advanced by the ordinances did not justify the targeting of religious activity.

Cisneros v. Petland, Inc. 972 F.3d 1204 (11th Cir. 2020) Plaintiff Cisneros purchased a Shih Tzu puppy named "Giant" from Petland Kennesaw, a Kennesaw, Georgia franchise of Petland, Inc. She received a certificate of "veterinary inspection" and a limited health guarantee at the time of purchase. Several days later, problems arose with the puppy and she brought the dog back to the Petland affiliated veterinarian who prescribed antibiotics without making a diagnosis. Shortly thereafter, an emergency pet visit revealed the dog suffered from parvovirus. Cisneros called Petland who told her to take the dog back to the Petland vet if she wanted a refund. She did so and the dog died several days later. Because the State of Georgia requires reporting of parvovirus, Cisneros received a report after the dog died, but she learned the dog's organs had been removed (an uncommon post mortem practice). As a result, plaintiff alleged that actions were the intended result of a nationwide conspiracy involving Petland and its affiliates to sell unhealthy puppies from "puppy mills" where health conditions are rubber stamped by a network of "preferred veterinarians" and buyers are deceived by sales documents that distract from the fraud. Plaintiff broadly asserted three claims: (1) a violation of the federal RICO statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c); (2) a conspiracy to violate the federal RICO statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); and (3) with respect to a Georgia subclass of persons who purchased a cat or dog from a Petland franchise in Georgia from July 2013 to the present, a violation of Georgia's state RICO statute, O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4. The district court dismissed Cisneros's federal causes of action for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her remaining state-law claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). After applying the six-fold test for a private plaintiff suing under the civil provisions of RICO, this Court found chiefly that Cisneros has alleged no facts that plausibly support the inference that the defendants were collectively trying to make money in pet sales by fraud, which is a common purpose sufficient to find a RICO enterprise. Cisneros was required to allege not just that Petland Kennesaw had a fraudulent purpose, but that it was a common purpose, formed in collaboration with Petland, PAWSitive, and the preferred veterinarians. In the end, Cisneros has alleged only that Petland operates a franchise business like any other franchisor. Even assuming that Cisneros has adequately pled fraud on the part of Petland Kennesaw, she has not alleged that its predicate acts constituted a pattern of racketeering activity. The action was affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part.
Citizens for Better Forestry v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 632 F.Supp.2d 968 (N.D.Cal.,2009)

Plaintiffs Citizens for Better Forestry brought an action against Defendant U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging failure to adhere to certain procedures required by NEPA and the ESA after Defendant promulgated regulations governing the development of management plans for forests within the National Forest System upon preparation of an allegedly insufficient Environmental Impact Statement and without preparation of a Biological Assessment or consultation with the Fisheries and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. On parties’ cross motions, the United States District Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that Plaintiffs had standing, that Defendant did not comply with its requirements under the NEPA because the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Defendant did not adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of the proposed regulations, and that Defendant did not comply with its requirements under the ESA because Defendant did not prepare an adequate Biological Assessment.

Citizens to End Animal Suffering and Exploitation v. The New England Aquarium 836 F. Supp. 45 (1993)

The primary issue addressed by the court was whether a dolphin, named Kama, had standing under the MMPA. The court found the MMPA does not authorize suits brought by animals; it only authorizes suits brought by persons. The court would not impute to Congress or the President the intention to provide standing to a marine mammal without a clear statement in the statute.

City of Canton v. Harris 489 US 378 (1989)

Detainee brought civil rights action against city, alleging violation of her right to receive necessary medical attention while in police custody. The Supreme Court held that inadequacy of police training may serve as basis for § 1983 municipal liability only where failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference to rights of persons with whom police come into contact.

City of Delray Beach v. St. Juste 989 So.2d 655 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 2008) In this Florida case, the city of Delray Beach appealed from a judgment for damages in favor of appellee plaintiff, who was injured by two loose dogs. The theory of liability was based on the city's knowledge, from prior complaints, that these dogs were loose from time to time and dangerous. The plaintiff suggested that the city's failure to impound the dogs after prior numerous complaints contributed to the attack. The court concluded that decisions made by the city's animal control officer and police to not impound the dogs were discretionary decisions, and therefore the city was immune.
City of Sausalito v. Brian O'Neill 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12457 (N.D. Cal. 2002)

In considering standing under the MMPA, the court found that the plaintiff city had only pure economic injury and had not shown that any harm would result to marine mammals protected under the MMPA. 

City of Sausalito v. O'Neill 386 F.3d 1186 (9th Cir. 2004)

A City sought to prevent the National Park Service from implementing a development plan in a nearby recreational area claiming the Park service had violated various environmental statutes.  The trial court held the City did not have standing to assert most of its claims and lost on the merits of the remaining claims.  The Court of Appeals held the City did have standing to assert all of its claims, but lost on the merits of all its claims except those under the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. 

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.
Coffey v. Bureau of Land Mgmt. 249 F.Supp.3d 488 (D.D.C. Apr. 20, 2017) As the court here states, "Plaintiff Debbie Coffey knows a great deal about wild horses and burros—and how those animals are treated by the federal Bureau of Land Management—but she wants to learn more." As such, Plaintiff, a hose welfare advocate, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the BLM to obtain communications between its officials and private citizens, namely those with long-term holding contracts, involved in the Wild Horse and Burro Program. In conjunction with her request, the BLM charged plaintiff $1,680 in processing fees, but ultimately refunded her the fees a year and half later because it failed to meet FOIA statutory response deadlines. On appeal, Coffey filed a FOIA suit and both sides moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff first argues that the BLM violated FOIA when it failed to give her interest on her processing fees. The court, however, found that awarding interest here would violate the longstanding "no-interest rule," where there was no congressional intent to award interest in such cases. As to plaintiff's argument that BLM's search for records was inadequate, the court agreed with plaintiff that the words and phrases used by BLM were too limiting to meet plaintiff's request and were thus unreasonable. The court held that BLM must choose a different set of search terms (including those suggested by plaintiff) and conduct the FOIA search again. However, the court found that plaintiff's additional contentions that: (1) the search terms were too vague; (2) the database and software needed to be identified; and (3) BLM needed to also include phone records in its search to be without merit. The parties' motions for summary judgment were granted in part and denied in part.
Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Inc. v. Salazar 639 F.Supp.2d 87 (D.D.C.,2009)

In this action, the plaintiffs (associations organized to protect wild horses and one equine veterinarian) challenged the decision of the BLM to remove all the wild horses from the West Douglas Herd Area in Colorado. Plaintiffs argued that the BLM's decision violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Defendants countered that BLM's decision was a reasonable exercise of BLM's discretion and was thus entitled to Chevron deference. This Court held that BLM's decision to remove the West Douglas Herd exceeded the scope of authority that Congress delegated to it in the Wild Horse Act.

Colorado Wild Horse v. Jewell 130 F. Supp. 3d 205 (D.D.C. 2015) Finding the number of horses too high to maintain ecological balance and sustain multipurpose land use in Colorado's White River Resource Area, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) invoked its authority under the Wild Free–Roaming Horses and Burros Act (“Wild Horses Act”), to declare those horses to be “excess animals” and scheduled to remove them from the land. Plaintiffs—organizations challenged BLM's “excess” determinations and its decision to remove these horses. They asked the district court to enjoin BLM's planned gather. Because the Wild Horses Act authorized BLM's excess determination and BLM appeared to have used reasonable methods to estimate the total wild-horse population, the Court found that Plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail on their Wild Horses Act claims. And because the record reflected that BLM considered the cumulative effects of the proposed gather and permissibly relied on the Environmental Assessment written for a previous East Douglas HMA gather, the Court found that Plaintiffs were also unlikely to prevail on their National Environmental Policy Act claims. The Court further found that Plaintiffs were unlikely to suffer irreparable harm as a result of the gather and that the balance of equities and the public interest weighed in favor of BLM. Accordingly, the Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.
Committee for Humane Legislation v. Richardson 414 F. Supp. 297 (1976)

At issue in this case are the statutory limitations on the authority of the Secretary of Commerce to adopt regulations, pursuant to the MMPA, that provide for the issuance of permits for the "taking" of dolphins incidental to commercial fishing activities.

Conservancy v. USFWS 677 F.3d 1073 (C.A.11 (Fla.))

In this case, many environmental advocacy groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for a species, the Florida panther, which was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1967. The petition was denied. Claiming the agency's action was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, the groups filed a citizens suit under the ESA in district court. At district, the group's complaints were dismissed and the groups subsequently lost on appeal.

Conservation Congress v. U.S. Forest Service 720 F.3d 1048 (9th Cir. 2013)

When two federal agencies authorized the Mudflow Vegetation Management Project, a conservation group sued the agencies for failing to adequately evaluate the project's effects on the Northern Spotted Owl's critical habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Upon appeal of the lower court's decision, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the conservation group's challenge to the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction was premised on a misunderstanding of regulatory terms, on an unsupported reading of a duty to consider cumulative effects under the Endangered Species Act,and on selected portions of the record taken out of context. The district court's decision was therefore affirmed.

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