U.S. SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS TWO VERDICTS FOR ANIMALS
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1999:
ALDF v. Glickman stands
WASHINGTON D.C.––The U.S.
Supreme Court on April 19 upheld without
comment appeals of two landmark appellate
verdicts favoring citizen lawsuits seeking
stronger enforcement of the federal Animal
Welfare Act and Endangered Species Act.
The September 1998 verdict of the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Glickman now
stands as precedent establishing the standing
of concerned individuals and animal advocacy
organizations to sue the USDA for allegedly
failing to fulfill the intent of Congress in
adopting the AWA.
In the specific case at hand, New
York activist Marc Jurnove contends that the
USDA has been negligent of duty in failing to
issue AWA enforcement regulations strong
enough to ensure the psychological well-being
of captive nonhuman primates.
With the standing issue favorably
decided, contrary to previous precedent, “The
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
now will consider the merits of the case,” said
ALDF staff attorney Valerie Stanley.
The case pertains to conditions at the
Long Island Game Farm and Zoological Park,
a so-called roadside zoo, not accredited by the
American Zoo Association, located in
Manorville, New York.
Stanley had attempted to secure
activist standing to sue the USDA over alleged
non-enforcement of the AWA since 1988. She
and associates won favorable rulings from the
late U.S. District Judge Charles Richey in both
1991 and 1996. Those rulings, however,
were later reversed by the Court of Appeals for
the D.C. Circuit.
The Supreme Court dismissal of the
appeal, brought by the National Association
for Biomedical Research, means the precedent
for standing could now be reversed only by an
Act of Congress.
Lights v. sea turtles
In the second case affirmed on
March 19, the Supreme Court dismissed the
contention of Volusia County, Florida, that
local governments cannot be sued under the
ESA for allegedly improperly regulating the
conduct of private citizens.
Shirley Reynolds and Rita
Alexander, of New Smyrna Beach, Florida,
sued Volusia County in 1995 for allegedly not
protecting nesting sea turtles from beach lights
and night driving on the beaches.
U.S. District Judge Anne Conway
dismissed the case in 1996, after the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service issued Volusia County a
permit to continue to allow night driving on
the beaches. But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals reversed Conway in August 1998.
As in ALDF v. Glickman, the case
to date has involved a battle over standing to
sue. It will now be tried on evidentiary merit
before the federal district court in Orlando,
where a trial date has been tentatively set for
Reynolds and Alexander claimed
their victory only two days after Judge
Conway ruled that they could not add the U.S.
Department of the Interior to the list of plaintiffs
in the case because of a procedural error
by their attorney, Leslie Blackner.
Reynolds said they would amend the
error and refile the addition.
More sea turtles
In another verdict favorable to sea
turtles, the U.S. Court of International Trade
on April 2 upheld the U.S. embargo on shrimp
imported from nations whose fleets do not use
Turtle Excluder Devices.
The ruling came in a case filed in
September 1998 by the Sea Turtle Restoration
Project, the Sierra Club, the Humane Society
of the U.S., and the American SPCA, answering
an August 1998 move by the U.S. State
Department to relax shrimp import standards.
In October 1998, the World Trade
Organization held that the U.S. TED requirement
is a “process standard,” which serves as
a de facto trade barrier, contravening the
United Nations-brokered General Agreement
on Trade and Tariffs.
In March 1999, the State Department
moved to comply with the WTO ruling
by proposing shrimp import standards which
are reportedly much the same as those the
Court of International Trade has now ruled
would not comply with U.S. law.
More endangered species
• The California 4th District
Court of Appeal on April 14 upheld the San
Bernardino Audubon Society contention that
the Metropolitan Water District, California
Department of Fish and Game, and
Riverside County Habitat Conservation
A g e n c y must produce a full study of the
impact of a deal brokered by top officials in
former state governor Pete Wilson’s administration,
which would have allowed the water
district to destroy some endangered species
habitat if it bought land elsewhere in Riverside
County to protect endangered species.
• U.S. District Judge Carlos
Moreno, of Los Angeles, on April 12 ordered
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate
critical habitat for the tidewater goby, a
three-inch fish found only along the California
coast, listed as endangered since 1994.
• In upstate New York, Dutchess
County Supreme Court Justice Judith
Hillery on March 30 ordered the S o u r
Mountain Realty Co. to remove a fence
which purportedly jeopardizes a den of endangered
timber rattlesnakes. The case was the
first-ever test in a state court of the New York
endangered species protection law.
McLibel appeal victory
British vegetarian activists Dave
Morris, 44, and Helen Steel, 33, w o n
another round against the McDonald’s restaurant
empire on March 31 when a three-judge
appellate panel reversed two of the findings of
libel rendered against them in June 1997, after
a 314-day trial during which they represented
themselves. The case centered on claims
Morris and Steel made in a pamphlet they distributed
attacking McDonald’s circa Earth Day
1990. In the original verdict, the court held
that McDonald’s was “culpably responsible for
animal cruelty,” exploits children, and pays
low wages, all as Morris and Steel charged.
The appellate panel also ruled that it was “fair
comment” for Morris and Steel to charge that
McDonalds’ workers “do badly in terms of pay
and conditions,” and that “if one eats enough
McDonald’s food, one’s diet may well
become high in fat, etc., with a very real risk
of heart disease.” The appellate court reduced
the amount of the penalty for the alleged libels
of McDonald’s which still stand to about
$50,000––which the almost penniless Morris
and Steel are unlikely to pay. McDonald’s has
so far reportedly spent more than $16 million
prosecuting the case.
• Ruling that pet theft by not
keeping a promise is theft nonetheless, a
Jefferson Circuit Court jury in Louisville,
Kentucky, on April 19 awarded former horse
owner Judy Taylor $126,000 including
$75,000 in punitive damages and $50,000 for
emotional distress, because Lisa and Jeff
Burgess of Sellersburg, Indiana, took her two
companion horses in 1994 after she fell ill with
muscular dystrophy, and promised to give
them quality care for life. Within a week,
however, the Burgesses instead sold the horses
to a killer-buyer for a slaughtering plant.
• SHARK founder Steve Hindi on
April 7 drew a fine of $450 and 18 months on
probation in McHenry County, Illinois, for
allegedly harassing hunters in 1997 by flying
his paraglider between them and a flock of
geese outside the now defunct W o o d s t o c k
Hunt Club. Hindi is also to do 50 hours of
community service. He is appealing the case
with the contention that the Illinois legislature
overstepped Federal Aviation Authority juridiction
in attempting to regulate air space.
• The Louisiana 5th Circuit
Court of Appeal ruled on March 10 that an
appellate panel of the same court had erred in
January, when it reduced an aggravated cruelty
charge against Muneer “Monte” Elazab,
41, to a misdemeanor. Reconsidering, the
court held that the original felony verdict was
correct. Elazab, of Des Allemands, was convicted
of killing his ex-girlfriend’s dog