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American Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Feld Entertainment, Inc.


This opinion represents the nine-year culmination of litigation brought by plaintiff Tom Rider and Animal Protection Institute (API) against Defendant Feld Entertainment, Inc. (“FEI”) - the operator of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey traveling circus. Plaintiffs alleged that defendant's use of bullhooks and prolonged periods of chaining with respect to its circus elephants violates the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531, et seq. This Court held that plaintiffs failed to establish standing under Article III of the United States Constitution and entered judgment in favor of defendants. Since the Court concluded that plaintiffs lack standing, it did not reach the merits of plaintiffs' allegations that FEI “takes” its elephants in violation of Section 9 of the ESA. 

American Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Feld Entertainment, Inc.


The Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, affirmed the lower court's finding that plaintiffs lack standing to sue Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for violation of the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that the use of two training methods for controlling elephants, bullhooks and chaining, constitute a "taking" under the Act. Here, the court found no clear error by the district court as to former employee Tom Rider's standing to sue where Rider's testimony did not prove an injury-in-fact. As to API's standing, the court held that API did not meet either informational standing or standing under a

Havens

test.

American Society For Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus


The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Fund for Animals, and Thomas Rider sued Ringling Bros. and its owner, Feld Entertainment, Inc., claiming that Asian elephants are an endangered species and that the circus mistreated its elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. The only question was whether, as the district court ruled in dismissing their complaint, plaintiffs (including a former elephant handler) lack standing under Article III of the Constitution.  The Court of Appeals held that the former elephant handler demonstrated present or imminent injury and established redressability where the elephant handler alleged enough to show that his injuries will likely be redressed if he is successful on the merits.

American Society For Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus


In this case, the court considered the parties’ respective motions for reconsideration. On August 23, 2007, the Court granted summary judgment to defendant as to elephants subject to a captive-bred wildlife (“CBW”) permit and denied summary judgment as to elephants for which defendant claimed a “pre-Act” exemption. Defendant has filed a motion for reconsideration challenging the Court's decision regarding the “pre-Act” elephants and plaintiff has filed a motion for reconsideration challenging the Court's decision regarding the CBW permit elephants. Defendant’s motion was granted in part as to the standing of plaintiff, Tom Rider. The court held that Rider’s standing is now limited to those six elephants to which he became “emotionally attached.” Notably, the court ended its opinion with a “hint to the wise” that the court will not tolerate any further filings inconsistent with FRCP.

American Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals v. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus


On Plaintiffs’ motion to compel discovery from Defendants, The United States District Court, District of Columbia, determined that “master schedules” and “performance reports” were not documents pertaining to the chaining of elephants, and/or describing practices and procedures for maintaining elephants on the train, and Plaintiffs were therefore not entitled to such documents. The Court could not determine whether certain audio tapes demanded by Plaintiffs pertained to the medical condition or health status of any Asian elephants in Defendants’ custody during a specified time-frame, or pertained to the investigation of Defendants’ operation conducted by the Department of Agriculture, without being given the opportunity to listen to and review the audio tapes. Plaintiffs’ mere speculation that Defendants hired an outside consulting firm to follow and/or counteract a previous employee’s efforts did not entitle Plaintiffs to any further judicial action.

American Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals, v. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Plaintiffs-ASPCA filed suit against Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Feld Entertainment, Inc, under the citizen-suit provision of the Endangered Species Act.  Plaintiffs allege that FEI routinely beats elephants, chains them for long periods of time, hits them with sharp bull hooks, breaks baby elephants with force to make them submissive, and forcibly removes baby elephants from their mothers before they are weaned. This conduct, plaintiffs contend, violates the "take" provision of the ESA. In the court's opinion regarding defendants' motion for summary judgment, the court held that the pre-Act exemption does not insulate defendant from claims of taking under the ESA. However, the court found that the captive-bred wildlife (CBW) permit held by defendant does not allow for challenge under a citizen-suit provision.
American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign v. Perdue This case involves a challenge by plaintiff-wild horse preservationists under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to a proposed management plan issued for wild horse territory (WHT) by the Forest Service (FS). Plaintiffs argue that the revision, which changed the borders by removing a middle section so that it was not a contiguous territory, was arbitrary and capricious. After the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment for the Forest Service, plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, FS contends that the unified territory was based on a cartographic error in the 1980s; in essence, FS argues that the 2013 change merely corrects an "administrative error" and returns management to the correct WHT boundary from 1975. However, this Court held that FS' decision to eliminate the middle section of the WHT was arbitrary and capricious because the plan failed to explain the change in policy. Further, FS did not adequately consider whether an Environmental Impact Statement was required under NEPA regarding this change. The Court was unconvinced by the FS's attempts to "shrug off" the inclusion of the Middle Section as an "administrative error" and stated that there is no "oops" exception for federal agencies. There were decades of data that relied on the "error" along with formal published plans that supported management activities and population studies. The court was unwilling to allow the FS to correct a past error by committing a new legal error: "[I]n administrative law, as elsewhere, two wrongs do not make a right." The court noted that FS may change its policies in the future, provided it reasonably supports those changes. Additionally, the Court found the FS' "Finding of No Significant Impact" in the environmental analysis was a "head-in-the-sand" approach that ignored real consequences of the boundary changes. Accordingly, this Court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in part and directed the district court to remand to the Service for further consideration.
American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign v. Vilsack The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (Plaintiffs) brought this action against the United States Forest Service (Forest Service) to prevent the implementation of the new Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory Plan (WHT) that Modoc County helped develop. Plaintiffs brought six claims against defendants, all under the Administrative Procedures Act. In Counts I, II, and III, plaintiffs alleged that the boundary clarification was arbitrary and capricious because it violated the Wild Horses Act, the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and in Counts IV, V, and VI, they claimed that the adjustment to the "appropriate management level" (AML) range was arbitrary and capricious because it was contrary to the same three statutes. Because the Forest Service reasonably concluded that the disputed territory was never formally incorporated into the Devil's Garden WHT, and that any references to one contiguous territory were the result of administrative error, the Court found that it was not arbitrary and capricious or in violation of the law for the Forest Service to act to correct the boundary in the 2013 Environmental Assessment and the 2013 Management Plan. Thus, defendants were entitled to summary judgment on Counts I, II, and III. And because the Forest Service articulated a rational basis for its decision to adjust the AML range for the Devil's Garden WHT that was not counter to record evidence or otherwise contrary to the law, the Court found that defendants were also entitled to summary judgment on Counts IV, V, and VI. Thus, plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment was denied, defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment was granted, and because they sought the same relief as defendants, the intervenor-defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment was denied as moot.
Ammon v. Welty


In this Kentucky case, the plaintiffs brought an action against the county dog warden for shooting their dog. Before the statutorily imposed 7-day waiting limit had expired, the warden euthanized the dog by shooting him in the head. The Court of Appeals held that while a family dog can be beloved by a family, loss of the pet does not support an action for loss of consortium. Further, the dog warden was not liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress because his actions did not rise to the outrageous level where the dog was not shot in the presence of the family and there was no evidence that Brewer intended to inflict emotional harm.

Amons v. District of Columbia


Plaintiff filed a Section 1983 action against D.C. police officers alleging,

inter alia

, intentional infliction of emotional distress for the unprovoked shooting of his dog inside his home.  The court found that the officers lacked probable cause for the warrantless entry into his home to make the arrest, the arresting officer made "an egregiously unlawful arrest," and the officers were unreasonable in shooting plaintiff's dog without provocation.

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