Federal

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Titlesort descending Summary
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.

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.
American Dog Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Dade County, Fla.


Associations of dog owners sued Dade, County, Florida seeking declaratory judgment that an ordinance that regulated “pit bull” dogs was unconstitutionally vague. Plaintiffs contend that there is no such breed as a pit bull, but rather a three breeds that this ordinance has mistakenly lumped together. The District Court held that ordinance sufficiently defined “pit bull” dogs by specifically referencing three breeds recognized by kennel clubs, including a description of the characteristics of such dogs, and provided a mechanism for verification of whether a particular dog was included. The uncontradicted testimony of the various veterinarians reflected that most dog owners know the breed of their dog and that most dog owners look for and select a dog of a particular breed.

American Horse Protection Ass'n v. U. S. Dept. of Interior

Appellants (American Horse Protection Association and a member of the joint advisory board created under the Act) initiated an action in the District Court against the Dept. of the Interior, alleging violations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and other federal statutes in connection with a roundup of horses on federal lands. In January and February of 1973, there was a roundup of horses (said by appellants to be wild and free-roaming) on public lands near Howe, Idaho. The District Court for the District of Columbia, granted summary judgment for appellees, rejecting appellants' contention that the Brand Inspector lacked authority under the Act to determine ownership conclusively. On appeal, the Court of Appeals found the District Court's construction of Section 5 unacceptable. This Court did not believe that Congress intended to abdicate to state officials final determinations under Section 5 on ownership of wild free-roaming horses and burros on federal lands. Thus, the Court held that final role is reserved to the Federal Government. The judgment appealed from was reversed, and the case was remanded to the District Court.
American Horse Protection Ass'n, Inc. v. Lyng


This case resulted from a remand by the Court of Appeals after the USDA denied the plaintiff's application for additional rulemaking for the Horse Protection Act to expressly prohibit the use of ten ounce chains and padded shoes in the training of show horses. The use of these materials, argues plaintiff, constitutes soring (the act of deliberately injuring a horse's hooves to obtain a particular type of gait prized at certain horse shows. The object of soring is to cause a horse to suffer pain as its feet touch the ground). This Court denied defendant's motion to dismiss and granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. In doing so, it directed the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture to institute rulemaking procedures concerning the use of action devices on show horses. The Court further held that the existing regulations are contrary to law and that the Secretary ignored his mandate from Congress under the Horse Protection Act.

American Horse Protection Asso. v. Frizzell


The court upheld the Secretary’s decision to remove 400 horses from certain public lands in Nevada because of the risks of overgrazing, but also asserted that the Secretary’s discretion was not so complete as to deny judicial review of his actions.

American Horse Protection Assoc. v. Andrus


The court stated that the Secretary’s decision to remove 3,500 to 7,000 wild horses in order to maintain the horse population at a permanent level might qualify as “major” federal action and thus require an EIS before removal could occur.

  

While the secretary has wide discretion under the WFRHBA, he has no discretion regarding compliance with NEPA.  The court also held that  the exercise of jurisdiction by two courts over public lands created no threat of conflicting decisions on range utilization, because the courts only determined whether the land use decision was an informed one.

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.

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