A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.


Judicial: Class Action, Standing

In William Miguel-Sanchez, et al. v. Mesa Packing, LLC, No. 20-CV-00823-VKD, 2021 WL 4893394 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 20, 2021), the court gave the final approval order for a class action settlement in a wage-and-hour dispute. Plaintiffs brought a suit against Mesa Packing, a farm-labor contractor, alleging that they violated the California Labor Code, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act (“AWPA”), and California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”). Plaintiffs are agricultural workers who are or were employed by Mesa on a piece-rate and hourly basis. Plaintiffs alleged that Mesa did not accurately record their arrival times or the time they spent performing piece-rate work and failed to provide accurate pay stubs. Mesa also did not compensate plaintiffs for late, short, or missed meal periods, and plaintiffs were occasionally sent home without receiving their pay for the normal day’s work. The parties agreed to a non-reversionary settlement that included a release of claims in return for injunctive relief and Mesa’s payment of $1,850,000.

Here, the court assessed whether a class existed, whether the proposed settlement was fundamentally fair, adequate, and reasonable, considering the settlement taken as a whole. The court also determined whether the requested attorney’s fees, costs, and class representatives’ incentive awards that the plaintiffs sought were fair and reasonable. The court concluded that a class existed and that the proposed settlement and requested attorney fees were fair, adequate, and reasonable. Next, the court looked at whether the plaintiff requested a $7,500 incentive award was appropriate since it was higher than the average of $5,000. The court determined that because of the time and effort the plaintiffs expended for the benefit of the class and the risk associated with initiating the litigation, the requested incentive award of $7,5000 per named plaintiff was appropriate.

The court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for final approval of the settlement and the motion for attorneys’ fees, costs, and incentive awards.

In Center for Biological Diversity, Inc., et al. v. Debra Halland, et al., No. 21-CV-01182-JCS, 2021 WL 4893401 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 20, 2021), the court considered whether the plaintiffs had standing and a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiffs brought the suit and alleged that the Defendants failed to revise the Stock Assessment Reports (“SARs”) for stocks of protected mammals (the northern sea other of southwest, southcentral, and southeast Alaska, Florida manatee, Antillean manatee of Puerto Rico, Pacific walrus, the southern sea otter, Chukchi/Bering Sea polar bear, and the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear). Plaintiffs alleged that this failure constituted agency action that was unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed and caused the plaintiffs and their members informational and procedural injuries.

The court found that Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that they have representational standing based on lack of information, lack of opportunity to comment, and potential downstream effects of Defendants’ failure to revise SARs for the species at issue. Because of this, Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged injury in fact. Plaintiffs also met the other requirements for standing, causation, and redressability. Plaintiffs established a reasonably traceably plausible link between Defendant’s failure to revise SARs for the stocks at issue and Plaintiffs’ representational, procedural, informational injuries. Plaintiffs sought to compel the Defendants to revise the SARs for the species at issue, and this declaratory relief would be sufficient to redress Plaintiffs’ injuries. Accordingly, the court concluded that Plaintiffs had standing to bring the claim.

The court held that Plaintiffs did not sufficiently allege a violation of Defendants’ duties under the Marine Mammals Protection Act (“MMPA”). The court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claim to the extent that it rested on the theory that Defendants failed to conduct annual or triannual reviews for any of the stocks at issue. Plaintiffs failed to clearly allege the statutory conditions that imposed a duty to revise the SARs were met. The court found that Plaintiffs did not state a valid claim upon which relief could be granted and dismissed the complaint with leave to amend.

Defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted.




Notice announcing the availability of EPA’s interim registration review decisions for the following chemicals: Amicarbazone; aminopyralid; azadirachtin, cold pressed neem oil and clarified hydrophobic neem oil; benzoic acid; endothall and salts; ethofumesate; fluoxastrobin; forchlorfenuron; gamma-cyhalothrin; inorganic halides; ipconazole; L-lactic acid; lambda-cyhalothrin; metam/MITC; metconazole; myclobutanil; novaluron; picloram; prometon; prothioconazole; and pyrasulfotole. In addition, it announces the closure of the registration review case for propazine. Info here.


Final rule announcing that the FCA issued a final rule amending our regulations governing standards of conduct of directors and employees of the Farm Credit System institutions to require each System institution to have or develop a Standards of Conduct Program based on core principles. Info here.


Notice that USFS and the Bureau of Land Management have prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Husky 1 North Dry Ridge Phosphate Mine located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, and by this Notice is announcing the opening of the public comment period. Info here.