Community Nutrition Institute v. Block, No. 81-2191

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Citation225 U.S.App.D.C. 387,698 F.2d 1239
Decision Date11 August 1980
PartiesCOMMUNITY NUTRITION INSTITUTE, et al., Appellants, v. John R. BLOCK, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture, et al. . Argued 4 Oct. 1982. Decided 21 Jan. 1983. Janie A. Kinney, Washington, D.C., with whom Ronald L. Plesser and Steven H. Leyton, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellants. Susan Sleater, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., with whom Stanley S. Harris, U.S. Atty. and Leonard Schaitman, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellees, Block, et al. Sydney Berde, St. Paul, Minn., of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Minnesota, pro hac vice by special leave of Court, with whom James R. Murphy and Charles W. Bills, Washington, D.C., Richard M. Hagstrom, Gary W. Schokmiller, St. Paul, Minn., were on the brief, for appellees, Nat. Milk Producers Federation, et al. Before TAMM, WILKEY and SCALIA, Circuit Judges. Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge WILKEY. Opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part filed by Circuit Judge SCALIA. WILKEY, Circuit Judge: Appellants, three individual consumers of milk, a non-profit consumer organization and a handler of milk products, have joined forces to challenge the manner in which reconstituted milk is regulated under forty-seven milk market orders adopted pursuant to the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act (AMAA). 1 The district court dismissed their complaint, holding that the individual consumers and the organization lacked standing and that the handler failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. We reverse the district court's decision with respect to the individual consumers and remand the case for a decision on the merits. I. BACKGROUND A. The Regulatory Scheme The Secretary of Agriculture (the Secretary) has regulated the milk industry through the use of milk market orders since 1937. 2 These orders, issued pursuant to section 608c of the AMAA, 3 regulate the price milk producers 4 receive for their dairy products. The orders are effective on a r
Docket NumberNo. 1241,No. 81-2191,74,No. 80-3077

Page 1239

698 F.2d 1239
225 U.S.App.D.C. 387
COMMUNITY NUTRITION INSTITUTE, et al., Appellants,
v.
John R. BLOCK, Secretary, United States Department of
Agriculture, et al.
No. 81-2191.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued 4 Oct. 1982.
Decided 21 Jan. 1983.

Janie A. Kinney, Washington, D.C., with whom Ronald L. Plesser and Steven H. Leyton, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellants.

Susan Sleater, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., with whom Stanley S. Harris, U.S. Atty. and Leonard Schaitman, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellees, Block, et al.

Sydney Berde, St. Paul, Minn., of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Minnesota, pro hac vice by special leave of Court, with whom James R. Murphy and Charles W. Bills, Washington, D.C., Richard M. Hagstrom, Gary W. Schokmiller, St. Paul, Minn., were on the brief, for appellees, Nat. Milk Producers Federation, et al.

Page 1242

Before TAMM, WILKEY and SCALIA, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge WILKEY.

Opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part filed by Circuit Judge SCALIA.

WILKEY, Circuit Judge:

Appellants, three individual consumers of milk, a non-profit consumer organization and a handler of milk products, have joined forces to challenge the manner in which reconstituted milk is regulated under forty-seven milk market orders adopted pursuant to the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act (AMAA). 1 The district court dismissed their complaint, holding that the individual consumers and the organization lacked standing and that the handler failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. We reverse the district court's decision with respect to the individual consumers and remand the case for a decision on the merits.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Regulatory Scheme

The Secretary of Agriculture (the Secretary) has regulated the milk industry through the use of milk market orders since 1937. 2 These orders, issued pursuant to section 608c of the AMAA, 3 regulate the price milk producers 4 receive for their dairy products. The orders are effective on a regional basis and cover most, but not all, of the United States. 5 Under the orders, dairy products are divided into separate classes, based on the use to which the raw milk is ultimately put. Raw milk which is processed and bottled for fluid consumption is Class I milk. 6 Raw milk which is used to produce manufactured milk products such as butter, cheese, or dry milk powder is classified as Class II milk. 7

Class I milk must be consumed rather quickly after it is produced because it is a fertile field for bacteria. It is therefore sold mostly on a regional basis. Class II milk products, on the other hand, can be stored for a longer period of time and therefore compete directly with similar products from across the nation. As a result of this increased competition, Class II milk commands a lower price on the market than fluid milk.

In order to provide dairy farmers with the stability needed to prevent a recurrence of the ruinous competition that devastated the milk industry during the depression, 8 section 608c authorizes the Secretary to issue milk market orders ensuring that producers receive uniform prices for their raw milk irrespective of the use to which it is put. 9 Thus, under current milk market orders "handlers" 10 (who buy the milk from the producers) pay a minimum price for Class I milk and a lower minimum price for Class II milk. The handlers make all payments into a regional pool, and producers are then paid out of the pool on the basis of

Page 1243

the average price received for milk in all uses. 11

Reconstituted milk products are fluid products manufactured by combining water with whole milk powder or nonfat powder. 12 Reconstituted milk was not regulated under the milk market orders for nearly thirty years, but in 1964 the Secretary issued the regulations which are the subject of this dispute. 13 Under these regulations, a handler who purchases milk powder from outside the order area and manufactures it into a reconstituted milk product pays the Class II price and reports the purchase to the order area administrator. 14 The reconstituted milk product is then regulated as though it were fresh milk coming into the area from an unregulated area (an area not subject to a milk market order). 15 It is assumed that the handler will use the reconstituted milk to manufacture Class II products, 16 but if the handler's records show that he has not manufactured enough Class II products to account for all the reconstituted milk, he is required to make a compensatory payment on the remainder. 17 The compensatory payment is equal to the difference between the Class I and Class II prices and is put into the regional pool for distribution, not to the seller of the milk powder, but to the local producers of fresh milk. 18 It is undisputed that the compensatory payment requirement raises the handler's cost of producing reconstituted fluid milk and it is this aspect of the various milk market orders which appellants challenge.

B. The Present Litigation

On 23 August 1979 appellants petitioned the Secretary of Agriculture to eliminate the compensatory payment requirement from the various milk market orders. Nineteen months later, having failed to receive a response to their petition, appellants filed the present action in federal district court, claiming that the regulation requiring compensatory payments exceeded the Secretary's authority under the AMAA and violated the provision of the AMAA prohibiting economic trade barriers on milk and milk products, and that his refusal to act on their petition was arbitrary and capricious. Appellants asked the court to invalidate, and enjoin the enforcement of, the compensatory payment provisions of the various milk market orders.

On 7 April 1981, four months after this suit was filed, the Secretary denied appellant's petition. This decision was made after "a careful and thorough review of the issues," based on public comments and "a comprehensive preliminary economic impact statement" developed by the agency. 19

On 29 September 1981 the district court granted appellees' 20 motion to dismiss appellants' complaint. The court first held that the individual consumers and the Community Nutrition Institute (CNI) lacked standing, concluding that they had not shown the requisite injury in fact, that their interests were not within the zone of interests arguably protected by the relevant

Page 1244

statute, and that, in any event, Congress intended to preclude consumers from challenging milk market orders in court. The court dismissed the milk handler as well, noting that although he had standing (since the AMAA specifically authorizes judicial review for handlers), 21 he could not be allowed to prosecute the present litigation because he had not complied with the procedural requirements outlined in the statute, thereby failing to exhaust his administrative remedies. This appeal followed.

II. STANDING

A. General Principles

In the last decade the Supreme Court has addressed the issue of standing in a variety of contexts. 22 This increased activity has not resulted in a complete clarification of the law; 23 nevertheless, some discernable guidelines have been laid down. It will be helpful to examine these guidelines before applying them to the specific facts of the case at hand.

It is clear that "[t]he term 'standing' subsumes a blend of constitutional requirements and prudential considerations." 24 It is now also clear that there are at least three elements a plaintiff must establish in order to satisfy the constitutionally imposed standing requirements.

[A]t an irreducible minimum, Art. III requires the party who invokes the court's authority to "show that he personally has suffered some actual and threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant," ... and that the injury "fairly can be traced to the challenged action" and "is likely to be redressed by a favorable decision." 25

Establishing the first element (injury in fact) requires the plaintiff to allege facts demonstrating a definable and discernable injury and an adequate connection between that injury and himself. The requirements of the second and third elements, however, have not always been as clear. Some confusion has arisen because the Supreme Court has used language which seems to indicate that the "fairly traceable causation" requirement and the "redressability" requirement are interchangeable. 26 However, the Court's articulation

Page 1245

of the Art. III standing limits in Valley Forge recognizes that the two considerations are not necessarily the same. 27 The fairly traceable causation inquiry is directed toward the connection between the injury and the defendant's actions. The redressability inquiry, on the other hand, focuses on the connection between the injury and the action requested of the court. The fairly traceable causation requirement is therefore generally based on past or present occurrences (the effect of the defendant's actions), while the redressability requirement is based on future probabilities (the effect of the court's decision). Of course, there is a correlation between the two elements. As the connection between the alleged injury and the defendant's actions becomes more direct, the likelihood that requiring the defendant to change his behavior will redress that injury increases. However, it is important to keep the two inquiries separate, lest the confusion continue. 28

Therefore, in order to satisfy the Art. III requirements of standing a plaintiff must show three things: (1) that he has suffered an actual or threatened injury (an adequate connection between a definable and discernable injury and the plaintiff); (2) that the injury fairly can be traced to the challenged action (an adequate connection between the alleged injury and the...

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65 practice notes
  • Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., Civil Action No. 18-2473 (RC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 30, 2020
    ...a reasonable showing that ‘but for’ defendant's action the alleged injury would not have occurred." Cmty. Nutrition Inst. v. Block , 698 F.2d 1239, 1247 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (citing Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Env't. Study Grp., Inc. , 438 U.S. 59, 74–75, 98 S.Ct. 2620, 57 L.Ed.2d 595 (1978) ), ......
  • National Wrestling Coaches v. U.S. Dept. of Educ, No. CIV.02-0072 EGS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • June 11, 2003
    ...immediate result of striking down the contested regulations would be a reduction in the harm alleged. See Cmty. Nutrition Inst. v. Block, 698 F.2d 1239, 1248-49 (C.A.D.C.1983) rev'd on other grounds, 467 U.S. 340, 104 S.Ct. 2450, 81 L.Ed.2d 270 (1984). It is particularly relevant in this re......
  • State of New York v. Thomas, Civ. A. No. 84-0853.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • July 26, 1985
    ...it abdicate its responsibility of granting relief to those injured by illegal government action. Community Nutrition Institute v. Block, 698 F.2d 1239, 1248 (D.C.Cir.1983) (citations omitted), rev'd on other grounds, ___ U.S. ___, 104 S.Ct. 2450, 81 L.Ed.2d 270 (1984). Accord: International......
  • Murray Energy Corp. v. McCarthy, Civil Action No. 5:14-CV-39
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • October 17, 2016
    ...the states and mining industry, could cause injury to its members' use and enjoyment of the environment); Community Nutrition v. Block, 698 F.2d 1239, 1248 (D.C. Cir. 1983), rev'd on other grounds, 467 U.S. 340 (1984)Page 29 (within complex structure of dairy market, consumers' contention t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
63 cases
  • Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., Civil Action No. 18-2473 (RC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 30, 2020
    ...a reasonable showing that ‘but for’ defendant's action the alleged injury would not have occurred." Cmty. Nutrition Inst. v. Block , 698 F.2d 1239, 1247 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (citing Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Env't. Study Grp., Inc. , 438 U.S. 59, 74–75, 98 S.Ct. 2620, 57 L.Ed.2d 595 (1978) ), ......
  • National Wrestling Coaches v. U.S. Dept. of Educ, No. CIV.02-0072 EGS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • June 11, 2003
    ...immediate result of striking down the contested regulations would be a reduction in the harm alleged. See Cmty. Nutrition Inst. v. Block, 698 F.2d 1239, 1248-49 (C.A.D.C.1983) rev'd on other grounds, 467 U.S. 340, 104 S.Ct. 2450, 81 L.Ed.2d 270 (1984). It is particularly relevant in this re......
  • State of New York v. Thomas, Civ. A. No. 84-0853.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • July 26, 1985
    ...it abdicate its responsibility of granting relief to those injured by illegal government action. Community Nutrition Institute v. Block, 698 F.2d 1239, 1248 (D.C.Cir.1983) (citations omitted), rev'd on other grounds, ___ U.S. ___, 104 S.Ct. 2450, 81 L.Ed.2d 270 (1984). Accord: International......
  • Murray Energy Corp. v. McCarthy, Civil Action No. 5:14-CV-39
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • October 17, 2016
    ...the states and mining industry, could cause injury to its members' use and enjoyment of the environment); Community Nutrition v. Block, 698 F.2d 1239, 1248 (D.C. Cir. 1983), rev'd on other grounds, 467 U.S. 340 (1984)Page 29 (within complex structure of dairy market, consumers' contention t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Justice Antonin Scalia, Constitutional Discourse, and the Legalistic State
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 44-4, December 1991
    • December 1, 1991
    ...U.S. 432 (1985).Community for Creative Non-Yiolence v. Watt, 703 F.2d 586 (D.C Cir. 1983). 1032 Community Nutrition Institute v. Block, 698 F.2d 1239 (D.C. Cir. 1983).Conafey by Conafey v. Wyeth Laboratories, 793 F.2d 350 (D.C Cir. 1986).Coy v. Iowa 108 S. Ct. 2798 (1988).Craig v. Boren, 42......

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