|Animal Legal Defense Fund v. United States Department of Agriculture
|2017 WL 2352009 (N.D. Cal. May 31, 2017) (unpublished)
|The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regularly posted documents about the enforcement activities of the Defendant, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, (“APHIS”). The documents were posted on two online databases. However, APHIS grew concerned that its Privacy Act system was insufficient. Therefore, the USDA blocked public access to the two databases so that it could review and ensure that the documents did not contain private information. However, the Plaintiffs, animal welfare non-profit organizations, asserted that by blocking access to the databases, the USDA breached its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act's (“FOIA”)'s reading-room provision. The Plaintiff’s also asserted that the USDA's decision to block access was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”). Plaintiff's motioned for a mandatory preliminary injunction. The United States District Court, N.D. California denied the Plaintiffs motion and held that the Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their FOIA claim because (1) there is no public remedy for violations of the reading room provision and they have not exhausted administrative remedies. (2) The Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their claim under the APA because FOIA provides the Plaintiffs an adequate alternative remedy. The Plaintiffs cannot establish that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction or that the balance of harms weighs in their favor in light of the on-going review and privacy interests asserted by the USDA.
|907 Whitehead Street, Inc. v. Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
|701 F.3d 1345 (C.A.11 (Fla.))
|2012 WL 6061706 (C.A.11 (Fla.))
The appellant in this case, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida ("Museum"), appeals the lower court's determination that it is an animal exhibitor for purposes of the Animal Welfare Act ("AWA"). Appellant contends that while admission is charged for the Museum, it does not exhibit the Hemingway cats to the public for compensation; thus, the cats are not distributed through interstate commerce. The court, however, found that since the AWA itself is ambiguous on the question of whether "distribution" includes the fixed-site commercial display of animals, the USDA's broader interpretation of "distribution" and "exhibitor" are entitled to legal deference. While the court sympathized with the museum's frustrations, it affirmed the district court's findings of law and held that Museum is an AWA animal exhibitor subject to USDA regulation
|ALDF v. Glickman
|204 F.3d 229(2000)
|340 U.S.App.D.C. 191(2000)
Animal welfare organization and individual plaintiffs brought action against United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), challenging regulations promulgated under Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to promote psychological well-being of nonhuman primates kept by exhibitors and researchers. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) regulations were valid, and (2) animal welfare organization did not have standing to raise procedural injury. Case discussed in topic: US Animal Welfare Act
|ALDF v. Glickman
|154 F.3d 426 (1998)
Animal welfare group and individual plaintiffs brought action against, inter alia, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), challenging its regulations concerning treatment of nonhuman primates on grounds that they violated USDA's statutory mandate under Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
|Alternative Research & Dev. Found. v. Veneman
|262 F.3d 406 (D.C. Cir. 2001)
|347 U.S.App.D.C. 296, 50 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1046, 32 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,142
An animal rights foundation sought to have the definition of “animal” amended, so that birds, mice and rats used for research would not be excluded. USDA agreed to consider the animal rights foundation petition to have the definition amended, and agreed to do so in reasonable amount of time. The National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), a biomedical research group that used birds, mice and rats in its research, attempted to intervene and prevent USDA from considering the petition. However, NABR was prohibited from doing so because there was no showing that preventing intervention would result in its interests not being violated.
|Alternatives Research & Development Foundation v. Glickman
|101 F.Supp.2d 7 (D.D.C.,2000)
In this case, the plaintiffs, a non-profit organization, a private firm and an individual, alleged that the defendants, the USDA and APHIS violated the mandate of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by promulgating regulations that exclude birds, mice and rats from the definition of “animal” under the Act. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that all three plaintiffs lack standing to bring suit. Defendants also moved to dismiss on the grounds that the exclusion of the three species is within the agency's Congressionally delegated discretion, not subject to judicial review. The court denied defendant's motion, holding that based on Lujan , defendants challenge to standing failed. Further, the AWA does not grant the USDA "unreviewable discretion" to determine what animals are covered under the AWA.
|Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y et. al. v. USDA et. al.
|946 F.3d 615 (D.C. Cir. 2020)
|Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) in 1966 to insure that animals intended for use in research facilities, for exhibition purposes, or for use as pets were provided humane care and treatment. Initially the definition of the word “animal” excluded birds according to the USDA. In 2002, Congress amended the AWA to make it known that birds were to be protected as well. The USDA promised to publish a proposed rule for public comment once it determined how to best regulate birds and adopt appropriate standards. Eighteen years later, the USDA has yet to issue any standards regarding birds. The American Anti-Vivisection Society and the Avian Welfare Coalition sued to compel the USDA to either issue bird-specific standards or to apply its general standards to birds. These animal-rights groups argued that the USDA’s utter failure to promulgate any bird specific standards amounted to arbitrary and capricious agency action. Their second argument was that USDA unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed action. The district court dismissed their complaint for failure to state a claim to which the animal-rights groups appealed. The Court of Appeals found that the AWA, when it was amended in 2002, required the USDA to issue standards governing the humane treatment, not of animals generally, but of animals as a defined category of creatures including birds not bred for use in research. The USDA failed to take “discrete action” issuing standards to protect birds that the AWA requires it to take. The Court ultimately affirmed the district court as to the arbitrary and capricious claim but reversed and remanded as to the unreasonable delay claim to determine whether the issuance of bird-specific standards has been unreasonably delayed.
|Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y v. United States Dept. of Agric.
|--- F.Supp.3d ----, 2018 WL 6448635 (D.D.C. Dec. 10, 2018).
|2018 WL 6448635
|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.
|Am. Soc'y for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Animal & Plant Health Inspection Serv.
|60 F.4th 16 (2d Cir. 2023)
|In 2019, Plaintiff-Appellant the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”) sued Defendants-Appellees the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) alleging that APHIS followed a "policy or practice" of violating FOIA for failing to comply with requests for records related to the agency response to maintenance of animal welfare standards and licensing of animal dealers/exhibitors. This suit was prompted by APHIS' 2017 decommissioning of two public databases that allow users (including the ASPCA) to access records on commercial breeding facilities including inspection reports and photographs. APHIS contends that there was not a policy or practice that violated FOIA because it was corrected as the result of an intervening act of Congress, specifically, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. In April of 2020, APHIS moved for summary judgment on the pleadings arguing that ASPCA failed to state a policy or practice claim related to the decommissioned databases and that it makes every effort to respond to FOIA requests within the statutory timeframe. The district court granted the motion for summary judgment on the pleadings, finding that while the decommissioning of the databases did indeed impair the ability of the ASPCA to receive prompt FOIA requests, ASPCA did not establish that the court must intervene to correct such a policy or practice and Congress already acted to correct the breakdown through the appropriations bill. On ASPCA's timely appeal here, the Second Circuit agreed with the district court that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 reversed the records access problems. While the ASPCA contended that there were certain records like photographs that were removed from the database, there is nothing in the complaint to suggest that such record requests would not be processed in the future. In essence, this court agreed that the intervening act of Congress by the change in law corrected the action. Thus, a broad order by the court mandating changes to the FOIA process would amount to an unlawful advisory opinion because there is no policy or practice currently occurring by APHIS. The district court's judgment was affirmed.
|Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
|789 F.3d 1206 (11th Cir. 2015)
|25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1261
|Animal Advocacy Organizations argued the district court erred in ruling United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s decision to renew an exhibitor’s license did not violate the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). According to the organizations, the USDA may not renew a license when USDA knows an exhibitor is noncompliant with any animal welfare standards on the anniversary of the day USDA originally issued the license. The 11th Circuit, however, found it had subject matter jurisdiction to review the organizations' challenge to the renewal under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that the USDA's interpretation—which did not condition renewal on compliance with animal welfare standards on the anniversary of the license issuance date—was a reasonable one. The district court’s decision was therefore affirmed.