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The plain language of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 3-1261(B), which provides that no two brands of the same design or figure shall be adopted or recorded, precluded the Arizona Department of Agriculture (Department) from recording “two brands of the same design or figure” regardless of their location. The Department in this case allowed Eureka Springs to record a “bar seven” brand, even though it was identical to a previously recorded brand owned by David Stambaugh, because it was placed on a different location on the cattle. Stambaugh sued the Department. The superior court granted summary judgment in part for the Department, concluding that section 3-1261 gave the Department discretion to consider the location of a brand on an animal in determining whether two brands are of the same design or figure. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that section 3-1261(B) is ambiguous. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute was unambiguous and precluded the Department from adopting or recording identical brands. View "Stambaugh v. Killian" on Justia Law

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The plain language of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 3-1261(B), which provides that no two brands of the same design or figure shall be adopted or recorded, precluded the Arizona Department of Agriculture (Department) from recording “two brands of the same design or figure” regardless of their location. The Department in this case allowed Eureka Springs to record a “bar seven” brand, even though it was identical to a previously recorded brand owned by David Stambaugh, because it was placed on a different location on the cattle. Stambaugh sued the Department. The superior court granted summary judgment in part for the Department, concluding that section 3-1261 gave the Department discretion to consider the location of a brand on an animal in determining whether two brands are of the same design or figure. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that section 3-1261(B) is ambiguous. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute was unambiguous and precluded the Department from adopting or recording identical brands. View "Stambaugh v. Killian" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an African American farmer, filed suit against the USDA and others, alleging racial discrimination, retaliation, and conspiracy regarding his loan applications, servicing requests, and the application of administrative offsets to collect on a defaulted loan. The district court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's conclusions that plaintiff's Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. 1691 et seq., claims were barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel because the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights could not bar subsequent federal litigation; the individual defendants have not demonstrated that plaintiff failed to state an ECOA claim against them where the complaint included sufficient allegations from which one could plausibly infer that the individual defendants qualified as creditors under the ECOA; the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's Bivens claims against the individual defendants in their individual capacities because his constitutional claims were not barred by a comprehensive remedial scheme; and plaintiff failed to state a claim for conspiracy against the individual defendants. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Johnson v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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The Animal Welfare Act does not directly address license renewal but does expressly authorize the USDA to promulgate and implement its own renewal standards. PETA filed suit challenging the license renewal process for animal exhibitors promulgated by the USDA through which the USDA may renew such license despite a licensee's noncompliance with the Act. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the USDA's Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court agreed with the Eleventh Circuit that the Act's licensing regulations embody a reasonable accommodation of the conflicting policy interests Congress has delegated to the USDA and were entitled to Chevron deference. View "PETA v. USDA" on Justia Law

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This consolidated action began as four separate lawsuits arising from transactions involving a dairy operation. This appeal focused on the claims asserted by Jack McCall against Max Silva personally. Max Silva appeals from the judgment of the district court in Twin Falls County finding him personally liable for the purchase of 116 dairy cows. After a bench trial, the district court found Silva personally liable for the purchase of the cows and dismissed the other claims against him. Silva contended that the district court erred when it found him personally liable for the purchase. Silva also argued that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to award him attorney fees proportionate to the claims on which he prevailed at trial. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "McCall v. Silva" on Justia Law

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Plainitffs appealed when their claims against a person who sold a steer for slaughter were dismissed. The steer was later found to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Patty Anderson agreed to sell a 4-H steer for her eighteen-year-old granddaughter. Joseph Deiter purchased one-half of the steer. Anderson contacted Donald Janak, who owned a mobile slaughtering business. He was asked to slaughter the steer for Deiter, and to deliver the carcass to Don’s Meats, which was a custom meat processing business that was owned and operated by Donald and Sharon Coons and their daughter Penny Coons. Janak slaughtered and skinned the steer, cut the carcass in half down the middle, and delivered the two halves of the carcass to Don’s Meats, where the meat was processed. After eating the meat, the members of the Deiter family became ill due to becoming infected with E. coli bacteria. The Deiters filed suit against Anderson, Janak and his corporation, and the Coonses. Anderson successfully moved for summary judgment as to the claims against her. The Coonses also successfully moved for summary judgment. The Deiters settled with Janak, and they appealed the judgment in favor of Anderson and the Coonses. The Deiters argued to the district court that Anderson and the Coonses violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act because she sold or offered for sale, in commerce, articles which were capable for use as human food and which were adulterated at the time of the sale or offer for sale as proscribed by 21 U.S.C. 610(c). Finding that the Deiters did not show any genuine issue of material fact with respect to the grant of summary judgment to Anderson or the Coonses, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of claims against those parties. View "Deiter v. Coons" on Justia Law

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Until 2000, Sonoma County grape growers could plant or replant a vineyard “as a matter of right” without governmental approval. A 2000 ordinance, governing “grading, drainage improvement, and vineyard and orchard site development within the unincorporated area of the county” requires growers, other than hobbyists, to obtain an erosion-control permit from the Agricultural Commissioner before establishing or replanting a vineyard. An applicant must submit plans demonstrating compliance with certain directives and must accept certain ongoing agricultural practices. The Commissioner issued the Ohlsons a permit to establish a vineyard on land they own that was being used for grazing, finding that issuing the permit was a ministerial act, exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, Public Resources Code 21000 (CEQA). The trial court agreed. The court of appeal affirmed. Although the ordinance may allow the Commissioner to exercise discretion when issuing erosion-control permits in some circumstances, the objectors did not show that the Commissioner improperly determined that issuing the Ohlsons’ permit was ministerial. Most of the ordinance’s provisions that potentially confer discretion did not apply to their project, and the objectors failed to show that the few that might apply conferred the ability to mitigate potential environmental impacts to any meaningful degree. View "Sierra Club v. County of Sonoma" on Justia Law

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The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9603, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), 42 U.S.C. 11004, require parties to notify authorities when large quantities of hazardous materials are released into the environment. In 2008, the EPA issued a final rule that generally exempts farms from CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements for air released from animal waste. The EPA reasoned that the reports were unnecessary because, in most cases, federal response was impractical and unlikely. The court concluded that petitioners have informational standing and proceeded to the merits. The court granted the petition for review and vacated the Final Rule, concluding that the EPA's action cannot be justified either as a reasonable interpretation of any statutory ambiguity or implementation of a de minimis exception. The Pork Producers' challenge was moot and the court dismissed their petition. View "Waterkeeper Alliance v. EPA" on Justia Law

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The Creamery filed suit against the State, contending that the State's refusal to allow it to call its product "skim milk" amounted to censorship in violation of the First Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment for the State, determining that the State's refusal to allow the Creamery to use the term "skim milk" withstood scrutiny under the threshold inquiry of the Central Hudson test for commercial speech regulations. The court held that the State's actions prohibiting the Creamery's truthful use of the term "skim milk" violated the First Amendment. Under the threshold question of Central Hudson, the court concluded that the speech at issue neither concerned unlawful activity nor was inherently misleading. Therefore, the speech merits First Amendment protection and the State's restriction was subject to intermediate scrutiny under Central Hudson. The court concluded that the State's mandate was clearly more extensive than necessary to serve its interest in preventing deception and ensuring adequate nutritional standards. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Ocheesee Creamery LLC v. Putnam" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs submitted rulemaking petitions to the FDA, FTC, AMS, and FSIS, requesting that each agency promulgate regulations that would require all egg cartons to identify the conditions in which the egglaying hens were kept during production. Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit claiming that each agency had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in dismissing their rulemaking petitions. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. The court concluded that the FSIS did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying plaintiffs' rulemaking petition where plaintiffs' proposed labeling regulations concern only shell eggs and thus fall outside of the FSIS's labeling jurisdiction under the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA), 21 U.S.C. 1031–56; the AMS also did not act arbitrarily or capriciously because the agency correctly concluded that it lacks the authority to promulgate mandatory labeling requirements for shell eggs; the FTC did not act arbitrarily or capriciously where the agency could not conclude that the potentially unfair or deceptive labeling practices plaintiffs challenge were "prevalent" as that term was used in the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), 15 U.S.C. 41-58, and the agency reasonably denied the petition based on its discretion to combat any potentially misleading egg labeling through ad hoc enforcement proceedings; and the FDA's explanation for denying plaintiffs' petition barely met its low burden of demonstrating that it considered the potential problem and providing a reasonable explanation of its decision. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Compassion Over Killing v. FDA" on Justia Law