Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Sec'y of Agriculture, Civ. A. No. 91-1328 (CRR).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtCHARLES R. RICHEY
Citation813 F. Supp. 882
PartiesANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, et al., Plaintiffs, v. The SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 91-1328 (CRR).
Decision Date25 February 1993

813 F. Supp. 882

ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
The SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 91-1328 (CRR).

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

February 25, 1993.


813 F. Supp. 883
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
813 F. Supp. 884
Valerie J. Stanley, Galvin, Stanley & Hazard, Washington, DC, for plaintiffs

John Schuman, Atty., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Civ. Div., with whom Thomas Millet, Atty., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Civ. Div., Stuart M. Gerson, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Jay B. Stephens, U.S. Atty., Washington, DC, for defendants.

CHARLES R. RICHEY, District Judge.

 TABLE OF CONTENTS
                 I. INTRODUCTION ............................................................... 884
                 II. BACKGROUND .................................................................. 885
                III. DISCUSSION .................................................................. 886
                 A. THE USDA'S REGULATIONS FOR DOG EXERCISE VIOLATE THE
                 APA BECAUSE THE REGULATIONS DO NOT PROVIDE THE MINIMUM
                 STANDARDS REQUIRED BY CONGRESS............................................ 886
                 B. THE USDA'S REGULATIONS REGARDING THE PSYCHOLOGICAL
                 WELL BEING OF NON-HUMAN PRIMATES VIOLATE THE APA. 888
                 1. The Regulations violate the APA because they do not include the
                 minimum standards intended by Congress................................. 888
                 2. The Regulations do not address group housing for non-human primates
                 in a manner consistent with the agency's original findings
                 later rejected by the Defendants ...................................... 889
                 3. The Regulations regarding minimum requirements for non-human
                 primate cages violate the APA in that they are arbitrary and capricious
                 because they are inconsistent with the USDA's original findings ....... 889
                 C. THE DEFENDANTS DELAY IN REQUIRING NEW CAGES SIZES
                 UNDER THE ACT UNTIL FEBRUARY, 1994, VIOLATES THE APA
                 BECAUSE IT IS AGENCY ACTION UNLAWFULLY WITHHELD. ......................... 890
                 D. THE REGULATIONS VIOLATE THE APA BECAUSE IT PERMITS
                 THE USE OF SPECIAL CAGES TO AVOID COMPLIANCE WITH THE
                 ACT....................................................................... 891
                 E. THE REGULATIONS PROMULGATED BY THE DEFENDANT SECRETARY
                 DO NOT VIOLATE THE FOIA BECAUSE THE DEFENDANTS
                 HAVE ACTED IN A MANNER THAT AVOIDS THE RIGHT
                 OF ACCESS BY THE PUBLIC TO INFORMATION REGARDING THE
                 CONDUCT OF THE REGULATED ENTITIES PERTAINING TO THE
                 TREATMENT OF ANIMALS UNDER THE ACT ...................................... 891
                IV. CONCLUSION .................................................................. 892
                

I. INTRODUCTION

The Plaintiffs, two animal welfare groups and several individuals, allege that the Defendants, including the United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") and the former Secretary of the

813 F. Supp. 885
USDA ("Secretary"), have violated the Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act.1 7 U.S.C. § 2143 et seq. This statute, enacted in 1985, is an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act of 1966. Pub.L. No. 89-544, 80 Stat. 350 (1966). Thus, the use of animals and their humane treatment in the field of research as well as other areas of our national life has been the subject of legislative concern for over 25 years

The Plaintiffs allege that the final regulations issued by the Defendants under the Animal Welfare Act, as amended in 1985, are arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law under the Administrative Procedure Act. 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq. The parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment.

After carefully considering the parties' motions for summary judgment, the supporting and opposing memoranda, the arguments of counsel, the underlying law, and the entire record in this case, the Court concludes that the Plaintiffs have successfully demonstrated that the Defendants violated the Administrative Procedure Act by enacting regulations that do not comply with the mandate of Congress as set forth in the Animal Welfare Act, as amended. Accordingly, the Court shall grant the Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, and shall deny the Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

In 1985, Congress passed the Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act ("Act"),2 which is an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act ("AWA"). See 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq.3 The Act is designed to provide for the "humane handling, care, treatment and transportation of animals by dealers, research facilities and exhibitors." 7 U.S.C. § 2143(a)(1). Congress required the Secretary to promulgate standards in accordance with the Act to ensure the well being and humane treatment of animals, notwithstanding the importance of research. Id. § 2143(a)(1). The relevant portions of the Act provide:

(2) The standards to be promulgated by the Secretary shall include minimum requirements
(A) for handling, housing, feeding, watering, sanitation, ventilation, shelter from extremes of weather and temperatures, adequate veterinary care, and separation by species where the Secretary finds necessary for humane handling, care, or treatment of animals; and
(B) for exercise of dogs, as determined by an attending veterinarian in accordance with general standards promulgated by the Secretary, and for a physical environment adequate to promote the psychological well-being of primates.
(3) In addition to the requirements under paragraph (2), the standards ... shall, with respect to animals in research facilities, include requirements ... for animal care, treatment, and practices in experimental procedures....

Id. (emphasis added). The Act also requires that each research facility establish a Committee ("Committee") to assess animal care and treatment through semiannual inspections. Id. § 2143(b)(1).

The Plaintiffs contend that the final regulations issued by the Secretary do not comply with the 1985 amendments to the AWA and are arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"). 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq. More specifically, the Plaintiffs challenge: 1) the lack of minimum requirements in the regulations regarding dog exercise and nonhuman primate psychological well being; 2) the amount of delay permitted under the

813 F. Supp. 886
regulations in complying with the new cage requirements; 3) the fact that the new regulations' provision for special cage designs permit regulated entities to evade existing minimum requirements for cage sizes; and 4) the regulations' provision that allows regulated entities to store their plans for dog exercise and non-human primate enrichment on-site, where the plans would not be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests by members of the public. See 5 U.S.C. § 552.

The Defendants make the bald argument that they received a broad mandate from Congress under the 1985 amendments and the regulations are properly within that mandate. They contend that the Act's call for "minimum requirements" does not require absolute numerical criteria.

In examining the validity of regulations promulgated by an agency, a reviewing court shall ordinarily consider only those materials before the agency when it made its decision. Florida Power & Light Co. v. Lorion, 470 U.S. 729, 743-44, 105 S.Ct. 1598, 1606-07, 84 L.Ed.2d 643 (1985).4 In this case, the parties have agreed on the sections of the administrative record that the Court should consider in making its determination. See Walter O. Boswell Memorial Hospital v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 788 (D.C.Cir.1984).

III. DISCUSSION

A. THE USDA'S REGULATIONS FOR DOG EXERCISE VIOLATE THE APA BECAUSE THE REGULATIONS DO NOT PROVIDE THE MINIMUM STANDARDS REQUIRED BY CONGRESS.

Under the APA, the reviewing court shall "compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed," 5 U.S.C. § 706(1), and "hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or not otherwise in accordance with the law." 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). The Court finds that the Defendants' regulations regarding dog exercise are arbitrary and capricious under the APA.

The regulations promulgated by the former Secretary Madigan and his Department under the Act provide that "the frequency, method, and duration of the opportunity for dog exercise shall be determined by the attending veterinarian and, at research facilities, in consultation with and approval by the Committee." 9 C.F.R. § 3.80(c)(1) (1992).5 Here, the Act requires the Secretary to promulgate "minimum requirements" for the exercise of dogs. 7 U.S.C. § 2143(a)(2).6 However, the Defendants' regulations give the on-site veterinarian and, in some cases, the Committee the discretion to make the decisions regarding the exercise of dogs and the regulations improperly leave the Act open to a variety of interpretations. For example, the regulations do not define critical terms regarding dog exercise. Therefore, while the regulations require that dogs housed individually "must be provided the opportunity for exercise regularly" 9 C.F.R. § 3.80(a), the term "regularly" is not defined. This could, to one person, be only once a month or perhaps even two weeks and, if so, would not comply with the clear mandate of Congress. As a result, there is no guarantee that even minimum requirements will exist within regulated entities

813 F. Supp. 887
and compliance with the Act will depend on the good faith compliance by regulated entities. This is contrary to the Act's clear mandate that the Secretary, and not the regulated entity, establish minimum requirements in this area. 7 U.S.C. § 2143(a)(2). Where Congressional intent is clear, "the court, as well as the agency, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress." Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 842-3, 104 S.Ct. 2778, 2781, 81 L.Ed.2d 694 (1984).7

The Defendants argue that the delegation to the on-site veterinarian is permissible because the Act specifically mentions the attending veterinarian as playing a key role...

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5 practice notes
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Glickman, Civil Action No. 96-00408.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • October 30, 1996
    ...held that the challenged regulations violated both the AWA and the APA. See Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Secretary of Agriculture, 813 F.Supp. 882 (D.D.C.1993). However, the Court's decision was subsequently vacated when the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled ......
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Veneman, No. 04-15788.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • November 22, 2006
    ...The district court struck down § 3.81 as arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Sec. of Agric., 813 F.Supp. 882, 892 (D.D.C.1993). Reversing this decision in 2000, the D.C. Circuit concluded that "[n]othing in the [AWA's] statutory mandate required grea......
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Glickman, Nos. 97-5009
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • March 10, 1998
    ...court ruled for the plaintiffs, and set aside the challenged regulations. See Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Secretary of Agriculture, 813 F.Supp. 882 (D.D.C.1993). We reversed, holding that all of the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the regulations. Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v.......
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Espy, Nos. 93-5127 and 93-5140
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 22, 1994
    ...of Agriculture (USDA) regulations promulgated under the Federal Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. Secs. 2131 et seq., (Act). 813 F.Supp. 882. Because we conclude the appellees lack standing to challenge the regulations, we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand with dire......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Glickman, Civil Action No. 96-00408.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • October 30, 1996
    ...held that the challenged regulations violated both the AWA and the APA. See Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Secretary of Agriculture, 813 F.Supp. 882 (D.D.C.1993). However, the Court's decision was subsequently vacated when the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled ......
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Veneman, No. 04-15788.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • November 22, 2006
    ...The district court struck down § 3.81 as arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Sec. of Agric., 813 F.Supp. 882, 892 (D.D.C.1993). Reversing this decision in 2000, the D.C. Circuit concluded that "[n]othing in the [AWA's] statutory mandate required grea......
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Glickman, Nos. 97-5009
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • March 10, 1998
    ...court ruled for the plaintiffs, and set aside the challenged regulations. See Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Secretary of Agriculture, 813 F.Supp. 882 (D.D.C.1993). We reversed, holding that all of the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the regulations. Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v.......
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Espy, Nos. 93-5127 and 93-5140
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 22, 1994
    ...of Agriculture (USDA) regulations promulgated under the Federal Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. Secs. 2131 et seq., (Act). 813 F.Supp. 882. Because we conclude the appellees lack standing to challenge the regulations, we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand with dire......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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