Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Plaintiffs Prevail In ESA Challenge To Industrial Wind Project

Finding “that there is a virtual certainty that construction and operation of the Beech Ridge Project will take endangered Indiana bats in violation of Section 9 of the” Endangered Species Act, federal district court judge Roger W. Titus enjoined the project from further construction and non-winter operation unless and until an incidental take permit (ITP) is obtained from the Fish and Wildlife Service. Recognizing that Defendants created this “self-imposed plight,” Judge Titus explained that “the only avenue available to Defendants . . . is to do belatedly that which they should have done long ago: apply for an ITP.” As plaintiffs Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, and Dave Cowan advocated throughout this lawsuit, Judge Titus agreed: “The development of wind energy can and should be encouraged, but wind turbines must be good neighbors.” Download the opinion and order here, and the press release here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Lawsuit Challenges Delisting of the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel

Today we filed a lawsuit challenging the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel from the protection of the Endangered Species Act.  Friends of Blackwater v. Salazar, No. 1:09-cv-02122 (D.D.C.).   On behalf of Friends of Blackwater, The Wilderness Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, Wild South, and Judith S. Rodd, our complaint challenges the agency’s decision to delist the Squirrel without following the agency’s own Recovery Plan for the species and with utter disregard for the best available science.  We are asking for the Squirrel, which inhabits mountain forests threatened by logging and climate change, to be returned to the list of endangered species.  The complaint and a press release are attached.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wind Trial Closing Arguments Set for Thursday Morning

Last week, in Animal Welfare Institute v. Beech Ridge Energy, the federal district court in Greenbelt, Maryland held an expedited trial over claims that the Beech Ridge wind project’s construction and operation will “take” endangered Indiana bats in violation of the Endangered Species Act, and hence requires an “incidental take permit” from the Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Court heard testimony from experts on both sides, and the trial will conclude on Thursday, October 29 with expert testimony from Defendants’ last witness followed by both parties’ closing arguments.  The trial will resume at 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning in courtroom 2C of the federal courthouse, located at 6500 Cherrywood Lane in Greenbelt, Maryland.  The trial is open to the public.   

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Plaintiff Seeks Records On Well Known Country Singer’s Killing of Cubby The Black Bear

On Friday we filed for summary judgment on behalf of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), which is challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) refusal to release records concerning a well-known country singer’s use of a bow and arrow to kill a captive bear – named “Cubby” – in a fenced enclosure.  Among other records, SHARK has requested the video the singer made of the killing, which was doctored to make it appear as though he was engaged in a fair chase hunt of a wild bear.  Although in killing and disposing of Cubby the singer and his co-defendant violated several federal laws, they received lenient sentences, and SHARK seeks the video and other records to better understand how the government is enforcing laws designed to protect animals.

Summary Judgment Brief

Monday, September 28, 2009

Plaintiffs’ Reply and Pretrial Brief Filed in Wind Lawsuit

On Friday, we filed Plaintiffs’ Reply and Pretrial Brief in Animal Welfare Institute v. Beech Ridge Energy, which previews for the Court arguments Plaintiffs will advance at trial regarding the “take” of Indiana bats as a result of the Beech Ridge industrial wind project’s construction and long-term operation.  The brief was accompanied by rebuttal declarations of three of the nation’s premier bat biologists that reinforce Plaintiffs’ position that Indiana bat deaths and injuries are very likely to occur based on the available data.  The trial is set for October 21-23 at the federal district court in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Friday, September 25, 2009

D.C. Circuit Denies Tobacco Companies' Pleas for Rehearing

Earlier this week the D.C. Circuit denied the tobacco companies’ requests that the Court reconsider a May 2009 ruling in which the Court affirmed Judge Kessler’s landmark decision finding the companies guilty of massive RICO violations.  The parties now have 90 days to seek certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Court Orders USDA to Release Animal Welfare Act Violation Records

Following a seven year legal battle and a highly unusual trial in a Freedom of Information Act case, the U.S. District Court for D.C. has ruled resoundingly in our favor in a case brought on behalf of In Defense of Animals to obtain USDA investigatory records regarding Huntingdon Life Sciences (“HLS”), a controversial research lab that USDA charged with multiple, serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act but then let off the hook with only token sanctions. The court rejected the USDA’s and HLS’s argument that the records bearing on USDA’s investigation could be withheld as “confidential commercial” information under Exemption 4 of the FOIA, and instead ordered all of the documents at issue to be disclosed within 60 days. The ruling in In Defense of Animals v. USDA, Civ. No. 02-557 (RWR), is attached.

Howard Crystal Testifies Against Polar Bear Import Bill

Today Howard Crystal testified before the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife against H.R. 1054, a bill that would override current law and allow certain polar bear hunters who have killed polar bears in Canada to imports their “trophies” – i.e., polar bear body parts – into the United States, despite the Bush Administration’s decision that the species requires protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A copy of the written testimony is attached

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hearing Date Set For Kansas City Plant Suit

The D.C. federal district court has set an October 19, 2009 oral argument date in NRDC v. Chu, No. 08-1709 (PLF) (D.D.C.). This case challenges the Department of Energy’s decision to abandon a highly contaminated nuclear weapons parts manufacturing facility in Kansas City, Missouri and move operations to a greenfield further outside the City, without first preparing an EIS.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tomorrow's Hearing For Trial Against Ringling Brothers Cancelled

The final hearing in ASPCA et al. v. Feld Entertainment, Inc., Civ. No. 03-2006 (EGS) (D.D.C.) that was scheduled for September 16, 2009 has been cancelled on the grounds that “additional oral arguments in this matter are unnecessary.” The Court has issued an Order providing that the “record is closed, and this matter is under advisement.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Court Sets Schedule For All Polar Bear Suits

The federal district court has issued a schedule for resolution of all cases concerning the ESA listing of the Polar Bear. Eleven separate lawsuits were consolidated into one Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in D.C.. Fours of these suits concern the ban on imports of polar bear body parts – called “trophies” – from Canada, and will be fully briefed by March 2010. Three of those cases challenge whether the MMPA provision for polar bear imports is still in effect despite the listing of the species under the ESA (e.g. Safari Club v. Salazar, No. 08-881). The final case concerns hunter applications for “enhancement” permits, claiming that killing polar bears in Canada and importing their body parts into this country will significantly enhance the survival and recovery of the species (Atcheson v. Salazar, No. 09-941). We represent the HSUS, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Defenders of Wildlife in defending the import ban. The Scheduling Order is attached.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Firm Helps Rescue Elephants

The Fish and Wildlife Service recently confiscated two elephants from a private owner in Texas due to a complaint filed by MG&C on behalf of In Defense of Animals. The elephants – Tina and Jewel -- have been placed at the San Diego Zoo. See

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Trial Date Set for Wind Lawsuit

Our lawsuit against a massive wind power project that will kill and injure federally endangered Indiana bats (AWI v. Beech Ridge Energy, No. 09-1519 (D. Md.)), is scheduled for trial from October 21-23 at the federal district court in Greenbelt, Maryland. The case challenges a proposed 124-turbine industrial wind energy project as violating the “take” prohibition of Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1538. We will post our pre-trial brief once it is filed on September 25, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Final Hearing Scheduled for Trial Against Ringling Brothers

The district court judge has scheduled a final hearing on certain issues in our Endangered Species Act case against the Ringling Bros. Circus challenging the mistreatment of the endangered Asian elephant, ASPCA et al. v. Feld Entertainment, Inc., Civ. No. 03-2006 (EGS) (D.D.C.). The hearing will take place on September 16, 2009 at the federal district courthouse in D.C., 3rd and Constitution, in Judge Sullivan’s Courtroom, No. 24A, at 11:00 a.m., and will focus on Daubert issues (admissibility and weight of expert testimony) and the pertinent regulatory schemes involved in the case.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Lawsuit Filed Over Critical Habitat For The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow

On behalf of The Center for Biological Diversity and the Florida Biodiversity Project, we filed a lawsuit today challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to dramatically reduce the amount of critical habitat designated for the critically imperiled Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar, No. 1:09-cv-1684 (RMC) (D.D.C.). Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, the FWS decided more than 20 years ago that additional critical habitat was needed for this species, which is found in and near the Everglades Park and Big Cypress Preserve in southern Florida. Although, as a result of a prior lawsuit, the agency finally proposed to designate more than 150,000 acres, including vital habitat west of Shark River Slough, the FWS ultimately refused to designate any habitat in that area, and reduced by more than half the overall critical habitat designated for the species. The plaintiffs have asked the Court to reinstate the prior designation, and order that the agency make a new designation consistent with the ESA within sixty days. The Complaint is attached.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal Welcomes New Attorney Jessica Almy

Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal is pleased to announce that Jessica Almy has joined the Firm as an associate. Ms. Almy completed her J.D. at New York University School of Law last Spring, and also holds a Masters degree in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University. Prior to law school, she spent five years at the Humane Society of the United States, where she worked on a variety of campaigns including predator control on a national wildlife refuge and the wildlife impacts of an offshore wind power facility. Welcome aboard Jessica.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Motion for Preliminary Injunction Filed in Wind Lawsuit

On Friday, we filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the United States District Court in Maryland, requesting that the Court enjoin defendants' further construction, turbine erection, and operation of their industrial wind facility, pending final resolution of the issues before the court. This motion, filed in Animal Welfare Institute v. Beech Ridge Energy LLC, Civ. No. 09-1519 (D. Md.), can be downloaded along with a supporting memorandum below. Additionally, the affidavits relied on by plaintiffs from leading biologists Michael R. Gannon, Ph.D.; Lynn W. Robbins, Ph.D.; and Thomas H. Kunz, Ph.D can be downloaded below.

Motion & Memorandum, and Supporting Affidavits