Federal

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Titlesort ascending Summary
American Bald Eagle v. Bhatti

A group of animal preservationists filed suit to enjoin deer hunting on a Massachusetts reservation because it contended that the activity posed such a risk to bald eagles so as to constitute a prohibited “taking” under the ESA. The essence of the plaintiff's argument was that some of the deer shot by hunters would not be recovered and then eagles would consume these deer thereby ingesting the harmful lead slugs from the ammunition. The district court denied the preliminary injunction, ruling that appellants failed to show a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. On appeal of the denial for injunction, this Court held that plaintiff failed to meet the showing of actual harm under the ESA. There was no showing in the record of harm to any bald eagles during the deer hunt of 1991 and the record fully supported the trial judge's conclusion.
Ambros-Marcial v. U.S.


Eleven illegal aliens tragically died in Arizona while attempting to cross the Sonoran Desert in May 2001. Plaintiffs, the aliens' surviving relatives, filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, claiming that the manager of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge where decedents were found, caused their deaths by refusing to allow an immigrant rights group to erect water drums on the refuge in April 2001. Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that (1) the Court lacks jurisdiction because the decision was a “discretionary function” under 28 U.S.C. § 2680(a), and (2) Plaintiffs failed to state a claim because Defendant owed no duty to Plaintiffs. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment and motion to dismiss. The District Court held that defendant's concerns about the safety of aliens (who might be encouraged to cross the area because of the presence of water drums), the safety of refuge visitors (who have been victimized by a small percentage of illegal crossers), and environmental harm (arising from habitat disruption and littering of debris) gave Defendant the discretion to decline to authorize the erection of water drums on Cabeza Prieta, and therefore the Court has no jurisdiction to hear this case. In addition, Defendant owed no duty to affirmatively assist trespassers illegally crossing Cabeza Prieta in avoiding the obvious dangers of a hostile desert. Therefore, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y v. United States Dept. of Agric. 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. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y et. al. v. USDA et. al. 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.
Altman v. City of High Point


This case arises out of several shooting incidents in the City of High Point, North Carolina.  In each incident, a High Point animal control officer shot and killed one or more dogs that were running at large in the city. Plaintiffs, the owners of the animals, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the officers' actions violated their Fourth Amendment rights.  The Court of Appeals concluded that the dogs at issue in this case do qualify as property protected by the Fourth Amendment and that the officers seized that property. However, because in each instance the seizure involved was reasonable, it concluded that the officers did not violate the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights.

Alternatives Research & Development Foundation v. Glickman


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.

Alternative Research & Dev. Found. v. Veneman



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.

Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Lyder


Plaintiffs challenge the USFWS' 2009 designation of approximately 39,000 sq. miles of critical habitat for the United States distinct population segment of the Canada lynx. Specifically, they contend that the Service: (1) arbitrarily failed to designate occupied critical habitat in certain national forests in Montana and Idaho, as well as in Colorado entirely; (2) arbitrarily failed to designate any

unoccupied

critical habitat whatsoever; and (3) failed to base its decision on the "best scientific data available." The court concluded that the FWS arbitrarily excluded areas occupied by lynx in Idaho and Montana and failed to properly determine whether areas occupied by the lynx in Colorado possess the attributes essential to the conservation of the species.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Weber


An environmental group sued the U.S. Forest Service claiming it violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) when it permitted the implementation of the Flathead National Forest Precommercial Thinning Project. The court that the defendants' designation of matrix habitat was not arbitrary and that there was no showing of irreparable harm to lynx habitat to require the Service to be enjoined from implementing project. Likewise, plaintiffs’ claims regarding the grizzly bear’s critical habitat did not prevail; nor did the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the National Forest Management Act’s Inland Native Fish Strategy. The court, therefore, granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs' motion.


Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Salazar Environmental organizations challenged constitutionality of Section 1713 of the 2011 Appropriations Act ordering Secretary of Interior to reissue a final rule removing a distinct gray wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains from protections of Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Court of Appeals held that the statute did not violate the separation of powers doctrine, and reasoned that Congress amended, rather than repealed, ESA as to delisting of gray wolf by directing Secretary to reissue rule without regard to any other statute or regulation.

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