448 F.3d 744 (5th Cir. 2006), 05-30098, Piazza's Seafood World, LLC v. Odom

Docket Nº:05-30098.
Citation:448 F.3d 744
Party Name:78 U.S.P.Q.2d 1598 PIAZZA'S SEAFOOD WORLD, LLC, Plaintiff-Counter Defendant-Appellee, v. Bob ODOM, Individually and as Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Defendant-Counter Claimant-Appellant.
Case Date:May 04, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 744

448 F.3d 744 (5th Cir. 2006)

78 U.S.P.Q.2d 1598

PIAZZA'S SEAFOOD WORLD, LLC, Plaintiff-Counter Defendant-Appellee,

v.

Bob ODOM, Individually and as Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Defendant-Counter Claimant-Appellant.

No. 05-30098.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

May 4, 2006

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Stephen Davis Marx (argued), Chehardy, Sherman, Ellis, Breslin, Murray, Recile & Griffith, Metairie, LA, for Piazza's Seafood World.

Clark A. Richard (argued), Clarence James Gelpi, Dan Brian Zimmerman, David Sean McFadden, Gelpi & Associates, New Orleans, LA, Houston T. Penn, Baton Rouge, LA, for Odom.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

Before HIGGINBOTHAM, DeMOSS, and OWEN, Circuit Judges.

DeMOSS, Circuit Judge.

This case requires us to decide the constitutionality of two Louisiana statutes, one that regulates the labeling of catfish, La Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3:4617(C) (the "Catfish Statute"), and another that regulates the use of the word "Cajun" on food products, id . at § 3:4617(D), (E) (the "Cajun Statute"). Appellee Piazza's Seafood World, LLC ("Piazza") is a Louisiana company that imports seafood and distributes it under the trade names "Cajun Boy" and "Cajun Delight." It sued the Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr. Bob Odom, to enjoin the Commissioner from enforcing the Catfish and Cajun Statutes against the company. The district court granted summary judgment in Piazza's favor with respect

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to the statutes and enjoined the Commissioner from enforcing either statute against Piazza, concluding (1) that the Catfish Statute was preempted by 21 U.S.C. § 343(t) and (2) that the Cajun Statute, as applied to Piazza, violated the First Amendment. The district court also denied the Commissioner's motion for new trial regarding the Catfish Statute, which the court treated as a motion to reconsider, reiterating that the Catfish Statute was preempted and finding in the alternative that it violated the dormant Foreign Commerce Clause. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This case represents the next chapter in an ongoing saga regarding the labeling of catfish. In May 2002, Congress passed legislation limiting the class of fish sold in interstate commerce to which the label "catfish" could be applied. See farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-171, § 10806(a), 116 Stat. 134, 526-27 (codified at 21 U.S.C. §§ 321d, 343(t)). This legislation was prompted by increased sales of Vietnamese Pangasius bocourti in the United States as "basa catfish." See kerrilee E. Kobbeman, Legislative Note, Hook, Line and Sinker: How Congress Swallowed the Domestic Catfish Industry's Narrow Definition of this Ubiquitous Bottomfeeder, 57 Ark. L. Rev. 407, 411-18 (2004); see also 148 Cong. Rec. S3989 (daily ed. May 8, 2002) (statement of Sen. Hutchinson) ("With this provision, we were trying to end the deceptive and economically destructive practice of mislabeling Vietnamese basa ...."); 147 Cong. Rec. H6267-68 (daily ed. Oct. 4, 2001) (statements of Reps. Barry, Pickering, and Shows) (describing the purposes behind the legislation). The American catfish industry was heavily impacted by the sale of these fish under the catfish name: sales of domestic catfish dropped significantly and domestic catfish farmers were forced to lower their prices. Kobbeman, supra, at 411-12; see also 147 Cong. Rec. H6267-68 (statements of Reps. Barry, Pickering, and Shows) (detailing the impact of foreign catfish on the American market). The new federal catfish labeling law, codified at 21 U.S.C. §§ 321d and 343(t), provided that the term "catfish" could only be considered "a common or usual name (or part thereof) for fish classified within the family Ictaluridae "; "only labeling or advertising for fish classified within that family" could use the term "catfish"; and a food would be deemed misbranded if it purported to be or was represented as catfish, unless it was fish classified within the family Ictaluridae . 21 U.S.C. §§ 321d, 343(t). After this legislation was passed, Vietnamese Pangasius bocourti, members of the family Pangasiidae, could no longer be labeled catfish; only fish from the family Ictaluridae, native to America, could bear the lucrative catfish label.

Around the same time, Louisiana discovered that American Ictaluridae were being farmed in China and sold in the United States as catfish, and it passed legislation limiting further the class of fish to which the catfish label could be applied. 2002 La. Sess. Law Serv. 1st Ex. Sess. Act 125 (West). Specifically, Louisiana stated that only Ictaluridae grown in the United States could be labeled "catfish." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3:4617(C) (2003).1 This lawsuit arose out of application of that law, as well as a Louisiana law limiting the use of the word "Cajun" on food products, to an American importer and distributor of Chinese Ictaluridae.

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Piazza is a Louisiana Limited Liability Company that has been selling seafood wholesale in Louisiana for more than fifty years; thirty years ago, it began marketing some of its products under the trade names "Cajun Boy" and "Cajun Delight,"2 and today it sells all of its products under those names. Although Piazza originally sold mostly Louisiana seafood, ninety-nine percent of the food products it sells currently are imported from overseas. Its customers are largely institutional buyers that resell Piazza's products to wholesalers and restaurants, but Piazza sells about one percent of its products to grocery stores that resell its products directly to the public. One of the products Piazza sells is Cajun Boy-brand catfish from the family Ictaluridae that is imported from China.3 The catfish and the "Cajun Boy" and "Cajun Delight" trade names are what is at issue in this case.

In March 2004, Commissioner Odom ordered several of Piazza's customers not to "sell, offer for sale, apply, move or remove" any of Piazza's products because the reference to "catfish" on Piazza's Chinese catfish violated Louisiana's Catfish Statute4; as a result of this action, 30,000 cases of Piazza's catfish were seized.5 Piazza brought suit, seeking an injunction against Commissioner Odom to prevent him from enforcing the Catfish Statute against the company. Piazza argued that the Catfish Statute was preempted by 21 U.S.C. § 343(t) and unconstitutional under the Commerce and Equal Protection Clauses. The district court eventually granted partial summary judgment in Piazza's favor as to the Catfish Statute, finding that the statute was preempted by 21 U.S.C. § 343(t) because of an actual conflict between the state and federal laws.6 The court did not address Piazza's alternative constitutional claims regarding the Catfish Statute at that time, although it did mention that it saw potential Commerce Clause problems with the statute.

While the original suit was pending, the Louisiana legislature passed House Bill 891, which repealed the "grandfather clause" in Louisiana's Cajun Statute that had previously protected the use of the word "Cajun" in a product name if that name was a trademark or trade name legally registered with the state of Louisiana as of May 15, 2003.7 Without the protection

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of the grandfather clause, all of Piazza's inventory violated the Cajun Statute. Piazza accordingly amended its complaint in the district court, seeking a second injunction against Commissioner Odom, this one to prevent the Commissioner from enforcing the Cajun Statute against Piazza.8 Piazza argued that the Cajun Statute was unconstitutional under the First Amendment and the Commerce, Equal Protection, Due Process, and Takings Clauses. Around the same time, Commissioner Odom filed a motion for new trial as to the Catfish Statute. The district court again found in Piazza's favor, granting partial summary judgment in Piazza's favor as to the Cajun Statute--finding that the statute, as applied to Piazza, violated the First Amendment--and denying the Commissioner's motion for new trial as to the Catfish Statute--reiterating that the Catfish Statute was preempted and finding in the alternative that it violated the dormant Commerce Clause by discriminating against foreign commerce.9 The court never addressed Piazza's alternative constitutional claims regarding the Cajun Statute.

The Commissioner timely appealed the district court's denial of his motion to reconsider as to the Catfish Statute and its partial summary judgment as to the Cajun Statute.10 He argues on appeal (1) that the district court erred in holding that the Catfish Statute is preempted by 21 U.S.C. § 343(t); (2) that the district court erred in reaching its alternate conclusion that the Catfish Statute violates the dormant Commerce Clause; and (3) that the district court erred in holding that the Cajun Statute, as applied to Piazza, violates the First Amendment.

II. The Catfish Statute

Generally, this Court reviews the denial of a motion to reconsider for abuse of discretion. Fletcher v. Apfel, 210 F.3d 510, 512 (5th Cir. 2000).

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However, if a party appeals from the denial of a Rule 59(e) motion that is solely a motion to reconsider a judgment on...

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