Articles Posted in Animal / Dog Law

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The panel denied the petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc, affirming the panel's January 12, 2018 opinion affirming the district court. In the January opinion, the panel determined that no reasonable fact finder could conclude that the injuries of a killer whale held in captivity, Lolita, presented a "threat of serious harm" sufficient to trigger liability under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The opinion reflected the panel's determination that the law would be better served by announcing the "threat of serious harm" rule, without defining its contours, and allowing district courts the flexibility to apply that rule to future circumstances with which they are presented. The panel held that the January opinion aligned with Congress's intent in drafting the ESA: to prevent extinction. Finally, the panel rejected PETA's alternative argument that the panel's reading of the ESA conflicted with regulatory definitions. View "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Miami Seaquarium" on Justia Law

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PETA filed suit against Seaquarium, alleging that it perpetrated an unlawful take by harming or harassing Lolita, a killer whale, in violation of section 9(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1)(B). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Seaquarium, but did not agree that actionable harm or harassment included only deadly or potentially deadly harm. Rather, the court held that Seaquarium was entitled to summary judgment because the evidence, construed in the light most favorable to PETA, did not support the conclusion that the conditions of her captivity pose a threat of serious harm to Lolita. View "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Miami Seaquarium" on Justia Law

Posted in: Animal / Dog Law

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This case concerns Lolita, a killer whale held in captivity since 1970, who performs each day at the Seaquarium. ALDF filed suit against the USDA for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that Seaquarium houses Lolita in conditions that violate the Animal Welfare Act's (AWA), 7 U.S.C. 2131-59, standards for granting a license under 7 U.S.C. 2133-34. The district court granted summary judgment to USDA. The court held that USDA’s renewal of Seaquarium’s April 2012 license is a final agency action subject to judicial review under 5 U.S.C. 706(2). On the merits, the court concluded that USDA’s licensing regulations constitute a reasonable policy choice balancing the conflicting congressional aims of due process and animal welfare, and the AWA licensing scheme is entitled to deference by the court. USDA has the discretionary enforcement authority to revoke a license due to noncompliance. Only Congress possesses the power to limit the agency’s discretion and demand annual, substantive compliance with animal welfare standards. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Animal Legal Defense Fund v. USDA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Association under the Federal and Florida Fair Housing Acts (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(3)(b) and Fla. Stat. 760.23(9)(b). Plaintiff alleged that the Association violated these statutes when it enforced its pet weight policy and demanded that plaintiff remove his emotional support dog from his condominium. The jury awarded plaintiff damages and the district court awarded plaintiff attorneys' fees. The Association appealed. The court concluded that plaintiff was entitled to partial summary judgment on the refusal-to-accommodate element; plaintiff offered sufficient evidence to show he has a disability within the meaning of the FHA; plaintiff produced evidence supporting the conclusion that the requested accommodation was necessary; the jury instructions do not warrant reversal; in allowing the dog to remain in the courtroom, the district court did not abuse its discretion; and the district court did not err in awarding attorneys' fees. Because there was no merit to any of the arguments the Association made on appeal, the court affirmed the jury's verdict and the district court's order.View "Bhogaita v. Altamonte Heights Condo Assoc." on Justia Law