Humane Soc. of U.S. v. Johanns, Civil Action No. 06-265 (CKK).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtColleen Kollar-Kotelly
PartiesThe HUMANE SOCIETY OF the UNITED STATES, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Mike JOHANNS, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date28 March 2007
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 06-265 (CKK).
520 F.Supp.2d 8
The HUMANE SOCIETY OF the UNITED STATES, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Mike JOHANNS, et al., Defendants.
Civil Action No. 06-265 (CKK).
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
March 28, 2007.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Eric Robert Glitzenstein, Howard M. Crystal, Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, Ethan Carson Eddy, The Humane Society of the United States, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.

Beverly Maria Russell, U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C., Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, District Judge.


Two claims remain in the instant action, found in Claim I and Claim III of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. In Claim III, Plaintiffs allege that, "by creating a fee-for-service ante-mortem horse slaughter inspection system without first conducting any environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act [(NEPA)], 42 U.S.C. § 4321, et seq., [United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)] has violated NEPA and the [Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ's)] implementing regulations, abused its discretion, and acted arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act [(APA)], 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)." Am. Compl. ¶ 98. The Parties, including Defendant— Intervenors, filed cross-dispositive motions as to Claim III after the Court, on March 14, 2006, denied [4] Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and for a Preliminary Injunction. Presently before the Court with respect to Claim III are [37] Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or Alternatively, for Summary Judgment; [38, 40] Defendant-Intervenors' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment on Claim Three of Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint; and [39] Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment. All three Motions have been fully briefed.

In Claim I of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that "[b]y creating a fee-for-service ante-mortem horse slaughter inspection system without providing advance public notice and an advance opportunity to comment, USDA has violated the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 553." Am. Compl. ¶ 94. The Parties filed cross-dispositive motions with respect to this claim after the Court issued its Order and Memorandum Opinion on August 28, 2006, which reinstated Claim One. Presently before the Court with respect to Claim One are [55] Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment on Claim One; [58] Defendant-Intervenors' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on Claim One of Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint; and Defendants' [60] Motion for Summary Judgment on Claim One and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or Alternatively for Summary Judgment on this Claim. All three Motions have been fully briefed.

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Based on the aforementioned filings, the history of the case, the administrative record, and the relevant statutes and case law, the Court shall grant [39] Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, and shall deny both [37] Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or Alternatively, for Summary Judgment, and [38, 40] Defendant-Intervenors' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment on Claim Three of Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint. Based on the Court's finding of a NEPA violation, the Court shall declare the Interim Final Rule to be in violation of the APA and NEPA, vacate the Interim Final Rule, and permanently enjoin the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA from implementing the Interim Final Rule. Accordingly, the Court need not reach the issue of whether the Notice and Comment provisions of the APA were violated in the promulgation of the Interim Final Rule at issue such that the Court shall deny as moot [55] Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment on Claim One; [58] Defendant-Intervenors' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on Claim One of Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint; and Defendants' [60] Motion for Summary Judgment on Claim One and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or Alternatively for Summary Judgment on this Claim.

I: BACKGROUND

A. Factual History1

At the time Plaintiffs filed their Complaint, horses were slaughtered at three different foreign-owned facilities in the United States to provide horse meat for human consumption abroad and for use in zoos and research facilities domestically. The instant case pertains to the web of legislation and regulations pertaining to the inspection of such horses prior to slaughter.

On November 10, 2005, Section 794 of the FY 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Act was signed into law. Introduced by members of Congress as an amendment to the FY 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Act, the Amendment provides:

Effective 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, none of the funds made available in this Act may be used to pay the salaries or expenses of personnel to inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. Sec. 603) or under the guidelines issued under section 903 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996.

See Pub.L. 109-97, § 794, 119 Stat. 2120, 2164 (A.R.51). The provision of the Federal Meat Inspection Act ("FMIA"), 21 U.S.C. § 603, pertaining to the inspection of horses provides: "For the purpose of preventing the use in commerce of meat and meat food products which are adulterated, the Secretary shall cause to be made, by inspectors appointed for that purpose, an examination and inspection of all amenable species [including cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, mules, and other equines] before they shall be allowed to enter into any slaughtering, packing, meat-canning, rendering, or similar establishment, in which they are to be slaughtered and the meat and meat food products thereof are to be used in commerce...." 21 U.S.C. § 603(a). See also 21 U.S.C. § 601(w)(1). The provision of section 903 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996 pertaining to the inspection of horses relates to inspections during the transport of horses,

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which is not at issue in the instant case. Plaintiffs understand the FY 2006 Amendment to in effect prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Pls.' Mot. for Prelim. Inj. at 10.

On November 23, 2005, Beltex Corporation, Dallas Crown, Inc., and Cavel International (collectively the "Slaughter Facility Operators") filed a petition for "emergency rulemaking" with the USDA to create a "fee-for-service" inspection program with respect to ante-mortem horse inspections and transportation-related horse inspections. Pls.' Mot. for Prelim. Inj., Ex. 10 (Petition) at 1. On February 8, 2006, FSIS published in the Federal Register an amendment to 9 C.F.R. Pt. 352, "amending the Federal meat inspection regulations to provide for a voluntary fee-for-service program under which official establishments that slaughter horses will be able to apply for and pay for ante-mortem inspection." 71 Fed.Reg. 6337, 6337 (Feb. 8, 2006). The "interim final rule" was given an effective date of March 10, 2006; additionally, FSIS provided a Shortened comment period "because it is issuing an interim final rule and finds that it is in the public interest for [FSIS] to receive comments on an expedited basis" before March 10, 2006, the date on which the 2006 Amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations Act would take effect. Id. at 6337, 6340. Elaborating on the need for immediate action, FSIS states:

[w]ith the passage of the FY 2006 Appropriations Act, if FSIS does not establish a means for official establishments that slaughter horses to obtain anti-mortem inspection, these establishments will not be able to operate and presumably will be forced out of business. This interim final rule is necessary to avoid disruption of operations at official establishments that slaughter horses. Therefore, the Administrator has determined that !prior notice and opportunity for public comment are impracticable and contrary to the public interest under 5 U.S.C. 553(b), and that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) for making the action effective as specified herein.

Id. at 6340. FSIS further specified that it is "establishing this fee-for-service program under the Agricultural Marketing Act (AMA)." Id at 6337.

B. Procedural History

In Plaintiffs' [3] First Amended Complaint, filed on February 21, 2006, Plaintiffs made three claims for relief. First, Plaintiffs claimed that the fee-for-service inspection system was created in violation of the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 553, because advance public notice and opportunity to comment was not provided. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 94, 95. Second, Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants violated the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706, principally by acting arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of both the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Act Amendment and the FMIA. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 96, 97. Finally, Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants violated NEPA and its implementing regulations by acting arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 98, 99.

Shortly after filing their First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs filed [4] Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and for a Preliminary Injunction, and Request for a Hearing ("Motion for Preliminary Injunction") on February 22, 2006. In their Motion, Plaintiffs reiterated the grounds for relief stated in their First Amended Complaint and furthermore requested that the Court preliminarily enjoin and declare unlawful the fee-for-service ante-mortem inspection program that would become effective on March 10, 2006 on the grounds that Plaintiffs have demonstrated likelihood of success on the merits,

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irreparable harm, lack of harm to Defendants, and public interest factors necessary to obtain injunctive relief. Pls.' Mot. for Prelim. Inj. at 1-2. On February 24, 2006, Beltex Corporation, Cavel International, Inc., and Dallas Crown, Inc. filed an unopposed [7.1 Motion to Intervene as of right as...

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  • Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. v. Sebelius, CASE NO. 2:12-cv-501-SLB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • March 25, 2013
    ...1020 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (explaining that legislative rules "have the force and effect of law"); Humane Soc. of U.S. v. Johanns, 520 F. Supp. 2d 8, 30 (D.D.C. 2007) (treating interim final rule as binding because it "create[d] an entirely new regulatory structure" and vacat......
  • Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. v. Sebelius, Case No. 2:12–CV–501–SLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • March 25, 2013
    ...F.3d 1015, 1020 (D.C.Cir.2000) (explaining that legislative rules “have the force and effect of law”); Humane Soc. of U.S. v. Johanns, 520 F.Supp.2d 8, 30 (D.D.C.2007) (treating interim final rule as binding because it “create[d] an entirely new regulatory structure” and vacating it on that......
  • Reed v. Salazar, Array
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • September 28, 2010
    ...a contemporaneous analysis of whether a categorical exclusion applies to a particular agency action. See Humane Soc'y v. Johanns, 520 F.Supp.2d 8, 33–36 (D.D.C.2007); see also Fund for Animals, Inc. v. Espy, 814 F.Supp. 142, 149 (D.D.C.1993) (finding a NEPA violation where “the record revea......
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, Civil Action No. 16-1534 (JEB)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • March 25, 2020
    ..."vacating a rule or action promulgated in violation of NEPA is the standard remedy." Humane Soc'y of U.S. v. Johanns, 520 F. Supp. 2d 8, 37 (D.D.C. 2007) (citing Am. Bioscience, Inc. v. Thompson, 269 F. 3d 1077, 1084 (D.C. Cir. 2001) ). Because "[s]uch a move" would &quo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. v. Sebelius, CASE NO. 2:12-cv-501-SLB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • March 25, 2013
    ...1020 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (explaining that legislative rules "have the force and effect of law"); Humane Soc. of U.S. v. Johanns, 520 F. Supp. 2d 8, 30 (D.D.C. 2007) (treating interim final rule as binding because it "create[d] an entirely new regulatory structure" and vacat......
  • Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. v. Sebelius, Case No. 2:12–CV–501–SLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • March 25, 2013
    ...F.3d 1015, 1020 (D.C.Cir.2000) (explaining that legislative rules “have the force and effect of law”); Humane Soc. of U.S. v. Johanns, 520 F.Supp.2d 8, 30 (D.D.C.2007) (treating interim final rule as binding because it “create[d] an entirely new regulatory structure” and vacating it on that......
  • Reed v. Salazar, Array
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • September 28, 2010
    ...a contemporaneous analysis of whether a categorical exclusion applies to a particular agency action. See Humane Soc'y v. Johanns, 520 F.Supp.2d 8, 33–36 (D.D.C.2007); see also Fund for Animals, Inc. v. Espy, 814 F.Supp. 142, 149 (D.D.C.1993) (finding a NEPA violation where “the record revea......
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, Civil Action No. 16-1534 (JEB)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • March 25, 2020
    ..."vacating a rule or action promulgated in violation of NEPA is the standard remedy." Humane Soc'y of U.S. v. Johanns, 520 F. Supp. 2d 8, 37 (D.D.C. 2007) (citing Am. Bioscience, Inc. v. Thompson, 269 F. 3d 1077, 1084 (D.C. Cir. 2001) ). Because "[s]uch a move" would &quo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • NEPA's Trajectory: Our Waning Environmental Charter From Nixon to Trump?
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 50-5, May 2020
    • May 1, 2020
    ...argument, nevertheless discuss the doctrine as an exemption from NEPA compliance. See Humane Soc’y of the United States v. Johannes, 520 F. Supp. 2d 8, 28 (D.D.C. 2007) (“accordingly is not exempted from NEPA review on this basis”). 68. In Sabine River Authority v. U.S. Department of the In......

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