Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Animal / Dog Law
C. L. v. Del Amo Hospital, Inc.
The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of defendant in an action brought by plaintiff, seeking injunctive relief under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff, who survived years of abuse, obtained Aspen as a service dog to help her cope with her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative identity disorder (DID), anxiety, and depression. Because enrolling in a full training course to provide Aspen with formal certification was not a viable option for plaintiff, she began self-training Aspen to perform specific tasks she thought would ameliorate her disability and decrease her isolation. In the underlying suit, plaintiff challenged Del Amo's practice of denying admission to Aspen as a violation of Title III of the ADA and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act.The panel held that the district court erred by effectively imposing a certification requirement for plaintiff's dog to be qualified as a service animal under the ADA. The panel held that the ADA prohibits certification requirements for qualifying service dogs for three reasons: (1) the ADA defines a service dog functionally, without reference to specific training requirements; (2) Department of Justice regulations, rulemaking commentary, and guidance have consistently rejected a formal certification requirement; and (3) allowing a person with a disability to self-train a service animal furthers the stated goals of the ADA, for other training could be prohibitively expensive. The panel remanded for the district court to reconsider whether Aspen was a qualified service dog at the time of trial, and if Aspen is a service dog, whether Del Amo has proved its affirmative defense of fundamental alteration. View "C. L. v. Del Amo Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law
American Wild Horse Campaign v. Bernhardt
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action alleging that the BLM's geld and release plan for wild horses violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.The panel held that the BLM did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when it chose to geld and release some of the male horses that would otherwise be permanently removed. The panel also held that the BLM permissibly determined that the intensity factors, whether considered individually or collectively, did not show that the Gather Plan would have a significant effect on the environment; the BLM considered and addressed the relevant factor that the Gelding Study raised and explained why additional information was not available, which meets NEPA's "hard look" standard; the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act does not require the BLM to discuss explicitly all expert opinions submitted during the public-comment period; and by addressing the concerns and factors that the NAS Report raised, the BLM complied with the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act's requirement that the BLM "consult" the National Academy of Sciences. View "American Wild Horse Campaign v. Bernhardt" on Justia Law
Naruto v. Slater
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of copyright infringement claims brought by a monkey over selfies he took on a wildlife photographer's unattended camera. Naruto, a crested macaque, took several photos of himself on the camera, and the photographer and Wildlife Personalities subsequently published the Monkey Selfies in a book. PETA filed suit as next friend to Naruto, alleging copyright infringement. The panel held that the complaint included facts sufficient to establish Article III standing because it alleged that Naruto was the author and owner of the photographs and had suffered concrete and particularized economic harms; the monkey's Article III standing was not dependent on the sufficiency of PETA; but Naruto lacked statutory standing because the Copyright Act did not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits. Finally, the panel granted defendants' request for attorneys' fees on appeal. View "Naruto v. Slater" on Justia Law
United States v. Wallen
The "good faith belief" defense for a prosecution under 16 U.S.C. 1540 is governed by a subjective, rather than an objective, standard, and is satisfied when a defendant actually, even if unreasonably, believes his actions are necessary to protect himself or others from perceived danger from a grizzly bear. The Ninth Circuit vacated defendant's conviction for killing three grizzly bears in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court held that defendant was not entitled to a jury trial; the magistrate judge, who served as the trier of fact at trial, misconceived the self-defense element of the offense, and that error was not harmless; likewise, the district court applied an objective test and the error was not harmless; and defendant was not entitled to a jury trial on remand. View "United States v. Wallen" on Justia Law
Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec v. Becerra
The Ninth Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs in an action challenging California Health and Safety Code 25982. Section 25982 bans the sale of products made from force-fed birds, such as foie gras. The panel held that section 25982 is not expressly preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), because the PPIA prohibited states from imposing "ingredient requirements" that were "in addition to, or different than" the federal law. In this case, the ordinary meaning of "ingredient" and the purpose and scope of the PPIA together made clear that "ingredient requirements" pertain to the physical components that comprise a poultry product, not animal husbandry or feeding practices. The panel also held that the PPIA impliedly preempted section 25982 under the doctrines of field and obstacle preemption. Accordingly, the panel vacated the district court's permanent injunction and remanded for further proceedings. View "Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec v. Becerra" on Justia Law
In Defense of Animals v. Dep’t of the Interior
Plaintiffs appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants regarding the roundup, or "gather," of approximately 1,600 wild horses and 160 burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA). Plaintiffs claimed that the gather violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. 1331-1340, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4370. The court held that the BLM did not violate the Act by implementing the 2010 gather on the Twin Peaks HMA; the BLM did not violate NEPA when it decided not to issue an environmental impact statement; and the BLM did not act arbitrarily and capriciously when it responded to comments highlighting the possibility of scientific dissent regarding the administration of the immunocontraceptive PZP. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "In Defense of Animals v. Dep't of the Interior" on Justia Law
Ass’n des Eleveurs de Canards v. Harris
Plaintiffs, foie gras producers and sellers, appealed the district court's denial of their motion to preliminarily enjoin the State of California from enforcing California Health & Safety Code 25982. Section 25982 banned the sale of products that were the result of force feeding birds to enlarge their livers beyond normal size. The court affirmed the district court's denial of Eleventh Amendment immunity to the Attorney General. The court dismissed the State of California and Governor Brown from the lawsuit because they were immune from suit. The court concluded that the only product covered by section 25982 at issue in this appeal was foie gras; plaintiffs' Due Process Clause challenge failed because section 25982's definition for force feeding was not vague and the statute gave fair notice of prohibited conduct; and section 25982 did not violate the Commerce Clause because it was not discriminatory, did not directly regulate interstate commerce, and did not substantially burden interstate commerce. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction because plaintiffs failed to raise a serious question that they were likely to succeed on the merits. View "Ass'n des Eleveurs de Canards v. Harris" on Justia Law
Leigh v. Salazar, et al.
Plaintiff, a photojournalist, contended that viewing restrictions at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) horse roundup violated her First Amendment right to observe government activities. The district court denied plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, concluding that most of the relief sought was moot because the roundup ended in October 2010. Alternatively, the district court concluded that plaintiff was unlikely to succeed on the merits because the restrictions did not violate the First Amendment. The court held that, because the preliminary injunction motion sought unrestricted access to future horse roundups, and not just the one that took place in 2010, the case was was not moot. With regards to plaintiff's First Amendment claim, the district court erred by failing to apply the well-established qualified right of access balancing test set forth in Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court. Accordingly, the court remanded the case to the district court to consider in the first instance whether the public had a First Amendment right of access to horse gathers, and if so, whether the viewing restrictions were narrowly tailored to serve the government's overriding interests.
Greater Yellowstone Coalition v. Serveheen, et al.;
This case involved the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Service) removal of the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the threatened species list. The court affirmed the district court's ruling that the Service failed to articulate a rational connection between the data in the record and its determination that whitebark pine declines were not a threat to the Yellowstone grizzly, given the lack of data indicating grizzly population stability in the face of such declines, and the substantial data indicating a direct correlation between whitebark pine seed availability and grizzly survival production. The court held, however, that the Service's determination regarding the adequacy of the existing regulatory mechanisms was reasonable and reversed the district court.
In Defense of Animals, et al. v. US Dept. of the Interior, et al.
This interlocutory appeal arose from an action instituted in the district court to stop the government from rounding up, destroying, and auctioning off wild horses and burros in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area on the California-Nevada border. Plaintiffs alleged that the government's actions would violate the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Wild Horses Act), 16 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. The court held that the injunction was moot because the roundup sought to be enjoined had taken place. The court noted that, in the event plaintiffs prevailed on the merits of their claims, the district court should consider what relief was appropriate.