Medeiros v. Vincent, No. 04-1841.

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
Writing for the CourtCyr
Citation431 F.3d 25
Docket NumberNo. 04-1841.
Decision Date12 December 2005
PartiesStephen P. MEDEIROS, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. Frederick J. VINCENT, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Defendants, Appellees, and United States of America, Intervenor, Appellee.
431 F.3d 25
Stephen P. MEDEIROS, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
Frederick J. VINCENT, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Defendants, Appellees, and
United States of America, Intervenor, Appellee.
No. 04-1841.
United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.
Heard March 9, 2005.
Decided December 12, 2005.

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Robert J. Caron, for appellant.

Paul A. Lenzini, with whom Gary Powers, Department of Environmental Management, and Terence Tierney, Department of Attorney General, were on brief, for appellees.

R. Justin Smith, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice, with whom Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General, Andrew Mergen, and John A. Bryson, U.S. Department of Justice, were on brief, for intervenor, appellee.

Before BOUDIN, Chief Circuit Judge, CAMPBELL and CYR, Senior Circuit Judges.

CYR, Senior Circuit Judge.


Stephen P. Medeiros appeals from a district court order dismissing the complaint he filed against the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), and the United States, challenging the constitutionality of a DEM regulation restricting the number of lobsters which may be harvested by methods other than lobster traps. We affirm the district court order.

I
BACKGROUND

In 1942, with congressional approval, fifteen Atlantic coast states, as well as the District of Columbia, entered into a compact pursuant to which the signatories would exercise joint regulatory oversight of their fisheries (viz., the area within three miles of their respective shorelines), primarily through the development of interstate fishery management plans ("IFMPs"). Each signatory is represented on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). 16 U.S.C. § 5102(3).

Until 1993, the decision to participate in any IFMP was entirely voluntary. As compliance was spotty, Congress enacted the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 5101-5108 (1993) ("ACFCMA"), which permits the ASMFC (i) to identify which IFMP terms it considers "necessary," id. § 5104(a)(1), and (ii) to require that all member states adopt and comply with these terms. Id. § 5101(a)(4) ("The responsibility for managing Atlantic coastal fisheries rests with the States, which carry out a cooperative program of fishery oversight and management through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to support such cooperative interstate management of coastal fishery resources."). Should a member refuse to comply, the ASMFC may contact the Secretary of Commerce, id. § 5105(b), who makes a plenary determination as to whether (i) the particular IFMP term is indeed "necessary,"

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and (ii) the member state is in noncompliance. Id. § 5106(a). Should the Secretary determine that the member state is not complying with an essential term, a moratorium on fishing may be imposed in the offending member state's coastal waters. Id. § 5106(c).

Approximately four-fifths of all Atlantic lobsters are harvested within the territorial waters of the Atlantic states (viz., within three miles of the shoreline), and an even greater percentage by means of lobster traps. A small percentage — for example, in Rhode Island, 1.62 percent — is harvested by trawling and netting. In December 1997, ASMFC promulgated an IFMP containing Amendment 3, after acquiring evidence suggesting that, despite years of heavy regulatory oversight, the Atlantic lobster population was still being overfished.1 "Overfishing" is defined as "a rate or level of fishing mortality that jeopardizes the capacity of a fishery to produce the maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis." Id. § 1802(29). Specifically, ASMFC determined that (i) ninety percent of recently harvested lobsters were young "recruits" which had just molted into the minimum legal size permitting their capture, and (ii) the loss of a population of more mature lobsters had resulted in a drastic diminution in lobster-egg production.

Thus, Amendment 3 promulgated a variety of "necessary" measures to ward off an impending catastrophic collapse of the Atlantic lobster stock. As concerns harvesting by lobster trap, Amendment 3 reduced the number of traps allowed on a vessel, as well as the trap capacity and the size of the trap vents designed to allow smaller lobsters to escape. With respect to non-trap lobstering methods, such as trawling and netting, Amendment 3 limited the daily harvest of lobsters to 100 per vessel, or 500 for vessels undertaking fishing expeditions of five days or more. The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) duly implemented the latter provision of Amendment 3 as RIMFC Regulation 15.18. In June 1999, Medeiros was indicted in Rhode Island superior court after his otter trawler landed 131 lobsters. The case was ultimately dismissed.

Some state officials were less than enthusiastic about Amendment 3. Mark Gibson, a former DEM official, and Jan H. Reitsma, a former director of DEM, stated that Amendment 3 was discriminatory and resulted in no genuine conservation benefit. In June 2000, over the strong objection of the Governor and the DEM, RIMFC repealed Regulation 15.18, and, pursuant to the Atlantic Coastal Act, ASMFC notified the Secretary of Commerce that Rhode Island was no longer in compliance with this "necessary" IFMP requirement. The Secretary agreed and announced an intention to impose a moratorium. However, in November 2000, Rhode Island reinstated Regulation 15.18, and stripped the RIMFC of its authority to rescind the ASMFC regulations. RIMFC is now a purely advisory body. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 20-3-2 (2001). Consequently, the moratorium never went into effect.

Medeiros submitted the instant complaint in state court against the ASMFC, the DEM, and the United States, alleging that Amendment 3 (as adopted through RIMFC Regulation 15.18) violates his rights to equal protection and substantive due process, and constitutes an unlawful "commandeering" of Rhode Island's legislative prerogatives under the Tenth

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Amendment. The defendants removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Thereafter, pursuant to cross-motions for summary judgment the district court dismissed all counts in the complaint. Medeiros v. Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Comm'n, 327 F.Supp.2d 145 (D.R.I.2004). Medeiros appeals.

II
DISCUSSION

Cross-motions for summary judgment are reviewed de novo, and all facts, as well as reasonable inferences therefrom, are reviewed in the light most favorable to the respective non-moving parties, with a view to determining whether (i) a genuine issue exists as to any material fact and (ii) either moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Barnes v. Fleet Nat'l Bank, 370 F.3d 164, 170 (1st Cir.2004).

A. The Equal Protection Claim

First, Medeiros claims that Amendment 3 and Regulation 15.18 violate the Equal Protection Clause, in that their discrimination between trap and non-trap lobstering methods bears no rational relationship to the asserted governmental purpose: to conserve the dwindling Atlantic lobster stock.

Legislation or regulation which neither employs a suspect classification2 nor impairs fundamental rights,3 will survive constitutional scrutiny, provided the remedy is "rationally related" to a legitimate governmental purpose. See Wine and Spirits Retailers, Inc. v. Rhode Island, 418 F.3d 36, 53 (1st Cir.2005); Citizens Awareness Network, Inc. v. United States, 391 F.3d 338, 355 (1st Cir.2004). Remedial choices made by the appropriate legislative or regulatory body are invested with a strong presumption of validity, rebuttable only where the party challenging the legislation or regulation can establish that "there exists no fairly conceivable set of facts that could ground a rational relationship between the challenged classification and the government's legitimate goals." See Wine and Spirits, 418 F.3d at 54 (citation omitted).

Regulation 15.18 was designed to ameliorate the unprecedented overfishing of Atlantic lobster stocks, and the resulting

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diminution in the overall vitality of those stocks. The defendants proffer two principal rationales for the differing treatment which Amendment 3 and Regulation 15.18 prescribe for trap and non-trap lobstering.

Traps are a targeted, passive method for harvesting lobster. The lobster trap rests passively on the ocean floor awaiting the lobsters, which come for bait that is designed to attract nothing but lobsters. Normally, newly molted lobsters, or "soft shedders," are not caught in traps, in part because the vents in the traps permit smaller lobsters to escape from the trap. Unless the smaller lobsters can escape, there cannot be a sufficient population of mature lobsters capable of egg production, and the ASMFC's goal of rebuilding the Atlantic lobster stocks would be threatened.

In contrast, non-trap methods, e.g., bottom trawling, are both non-passive and non-selective. For the most part, the lobster is a coincidental and insignificant by-catch for trawlers fishing primarily for finfish. The trawler nets actively dredge the ocean floor, catching whatever species may be in their path and large enough to be caught in the mesh, and the act of trawling the bottom may cause significant shell damage to the vulnerable population of soft shell lobsters. The relatively small openings required in trawler nets in order to catch most finfish species also lead to the capture of numerous soft shedders, which likewise causes a diminution in overall egg production. For instance, seventy percent of the 131 lobsters seized from the Medeiros vessel in June 1999 were soft shedders, many of which were moribund.

Given these inherent differences between the trap...

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  • BENCH BILLBOARD COMPANY v. City of Toledo, Case No. 3:07CV2027.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • March 3, 2010
    ...is not lacking in a rational basis simply because it addresses a broader problem in small or incremental stages." Medeiros v. Vincent, 431 F.3d 25, 31-32 (1st Cir.2005) (citing City of New Orleans v. Dukes, 427 U.S. 297, 303, 96 S.Ct. 2513, 49 L.Ed.2d 511 (1976)). "A State does not violate ......
  • Warren v. United States ., 06-CV-226S
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • March 12, 2012
    ...(7th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1116 (2000) (allowing private party to bring Tenth Amendment challenge); Medeiros v. Vincent, 431 F.3d 25, 33-36 (1st Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 548 U.S. 904 (2006) (holding that private party has no standing to bring Tenth Amendment claim). The Suprem......
  • Lovgren v. Locke, Nos. 11–1952
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 28, 2012
    ...through an alternate model of “output” controls, or restrictions on the number of fish coming out of a fishery. SeeMedeiros v. Vincent, 431 F.3d 25, 30–31 (1st Cir.2005) (describing “input” and “output” controls). The DAS input control program was oft-amended and yielded mixed results as to......
  • U.S. v. Bond, No. 08-2677.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 17, 2009
    ...Servs. Corp., 462 F.3d 219, 234-35 (2d Cir.2006), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 44, 169 L.Ed.2d 11 (2007); Medeiros v. Vincent, 431 F.3d 25, 33-36 (1st Cir.2005), cert. denied, 548 U.S. 904, 126 S.Ct. 2968, 165 L.Ed.2d 951 (2006); United States v. Parker, 362 F.3d 1279, 1284-85 (10t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
107 cases
  • BENCH BILLBOARD COMPANY v. City of Toledo, Case No. 3:07CV2027.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • March 3, 2010
    ...is not lacking in a rational basis simply because it addresses a broader problem in small or incremental stages." Medeiros v. Vincent, 431 F.3d 25, 31-32 (1st Cir.2005) (citing City of New Orleans v. Dukes, 427 U.S. 297, 303, 96 S.Ct. 2513, 49 L.Ed.2d 511 (1976)). "A State does not violate ......
  • Warren v. United States ., 06-CV-226S
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • March 12, 2012
    ...(7th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1116 (2000) (allowing private party to bring Tenth Amendment challenge); Medeiros v. Vincent, 431 F.3d 25, 33-36 (1st Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 548 U.S. 904 (2006) (holding that private party has no standing to bring Tenth Amendment claim). The Suprem......
  • Lovgren v. Locke, Nos. 11–1952
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 28, 2012
    ...through an alternate model of “output” controls, or restrictions on the number of fish coming out of a fishery. SeeMedeiros v. Vincent, 431 F.3d 25, 30–31 (1st Cir.2005) (describing “input” and “output” controls). The DAS input control program was oft-amended and yielded mixed results as to......
  • U.S. v. Bond, No. 08-2677.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 17, 2009
    ...Servs. Corp., 462 F.3d 219, 234-35 (2d Cir.2006), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 44, 169 L.Ed.2d 11 (2007); Medeiros v. Vincent, 431 F.3d 25, 33-36 (1st Cir.2005), cert. denied, 548 U.S. 904, 126 S.Ct. 2968, 165 L.Ed.2d 951 (2006); United States v. Parker, 362 F.3d 1279, 1284-85 (10t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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