Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Ilano, No. 17-16760, 2019 WL 2571434 (9th Cir. June 24, 2019)

In 2014, Congress amended the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (“HFRA”) to allow the United States Forest Service greater flexibility in managing the health of forest lands threatened by insect and disease infestation. The Forest Service identified large swaths of lands in California, including lands within the Tahoe National Forest, as insect-infested and diseased areas under the HFRA. In 2016, the Forest Service approved the Sunny South Project, which aimed to address spreading pine-beetle infestation in previously designated at-risk areas within the Tahoe National Forest.
Two environmental groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and Earth Island Institute, filed suit, challenging both the Forest Service’s designation of at-risk forest lands and its approval of the Sunny South Project on the ground that the agency’s actions violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Forest Service. Court affirms.
CRAIG D. CORDER ET AL., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. OHIO EDISON COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee. Additional Party Names: Jackie C. Corder, Scott Corder, 2019-Ohio-2639 Appellants, Craig D. Corder, Jackie C. Corder, and Scott Corder appeal the judgment entry of the Harrison County Court of Common Pleas finding sua sponte that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (“PUCO”) has exclusive jurisdiction over the issue raised in this action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. Appellants contend that the plain language of three 1948 easements, which traverse a portion of their property, prohibits Appellee, Ohio Edison from applying herbicide to control vegetation growth. Appellee counters that resolution of vegetation control issues requires PUCO’s administrative expertise, and herbicide application constitutes a practice normally authorized by the utility. Because the resolution of this matter turns on the interpretation of an ambiguous term in the easements, the judgment entry of the trial court is reversed and this matter is remanded for the trial court to interpret the relevant language in the easements.

Alfaro-Huitron v. Campos, No. CV 15-210 GJF/JHR, 2019 WL 2717711 (D.N.M. June 28, 2019)

In April 2014, Plaintiffs, U.S. agricultural workers who are represented by the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., filed a lawsuit that eventually included nine Defendants. See ECFs 1, 103. Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants recruited them under false pretenses, thereby violating provisions of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (“AWPA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq., and New Mexico common law.  In January and September 2018, the Court granted the summary judgment motions of two Defendants, Cervantes Agribusiness and Cervantes Enterprises Inc. (the “Cervantes Defendants”).
Shortly thereafter, in October 2018, the Cervantes Defendants filed a Bill of Costs, requesting that the Clerk tax costs against Plaintiffs in the amount of $8,076.72. Plaintiff’s did not contest any of the itemized charges in this Bill of Costs, and in May 2019, the Clerk granted the Bill of Costs in its entirety.  Plaintiffs then filed the instant Motion, asking this Court to find that the taxation of costs against them is inappropriate and to thus deny any award of costs to the Cervantes Defendants.
Plaintiffs argue that the Court should not award costs to Cervantes Defendants as the prevailing party because (1) Plaintiffs are indigent and cannot afford such costs and (2) awarding such costs would punish Plaintiffs and “create a chilling effect on local farmworkers’ ability to redress future violations.”  Plaintiff’s Motion denied.
Corrigan v. Bernhardt, No. 1:18-CV-512-BLW, 2019 WL 2717970 (D. Idaho June 27, 2019)
The Court has before it a motion to intervene filed by Western Watersheds Project (WWP). The motion is fully briefed and at issue. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant the motion to the extent it seeks permissive intervention.
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit challenging the BLM’s cancellation of their grazing preferences on two allotments – known as the Hanley FFR and Trout Springs allotments – on BLM lands in Idaho. This controversy began when BLM concluded in 2009 that plaintiff Hanley Ranch was no longer qualified to hold a BLM grazing permit because of an “unsatisfactory record of performance” between 2002 and 2009. See Corrigan v. BLM, 190 IBLA 371, 374 (2017). BLM determined that Hanley Ranch violated the terms of its grazing permit every year between 2002 and 2009, and that these violations caused “substantial overgrazing” of the Trout Springs allotment.  Consequently, BLM decided in 2009 not to renew Hanley Ranch’s grazing permit.
BLM denied the transfer of “grazing preference” because Hanley Ranch was no longer eligible to receive a grazing permit, and that decision was affirmed by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA).  The IBLA explained that under BLM regulations, “grazing preference” does not constitute “any kind” of “indefinite entitlement” or “property-based right[ ],” and agreed with BLM that a “grazing preference” does not exist independently of a grazing permitId. at 388. Consequently, “if a person ceases to be a ‘permittee’ he or she ceases to control preference.” Id.
In response, the Hanleys and Corrigans filed this lawsuit under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) seeking judicial review of the IBLA decision. On the merits of the IBLA decision, the plaintiffs argue that a grazing preference is separate from a grazing permit and that the preference does not disappear just because the permit is denied. As to the remedy, plaintiffs seek reversal of the agency decisions to deny the (1) Corrigan’s transfer application and (2) Corrigan’s grazing permit.
Western Watersheds Project (WWP) has filed a motion to intervene. Plaintiffs do not object to WWP intervening in the remedies phase should the Court agree with plaintiffs on the merits that their grazing preference continued to exist despite the denial of their grazing permit, but they object to WWP’s intervention on the merits phase of this case.
Derrick v. Standard Nutrition Co., No. CIV 17-1245 RB/SMV, 2019 WL 2717150 (D.N.M. June 28, 2019)
Ronny and Angie Derrick (Plaintiffs), owners of a horse breeding program, have brought suit against Standard Nutrition Company (Defendant), a manufacturer of animal feed. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant manufactured and sold them feed contaminated with a substance (monensin) that caused injury and death to many of their horses. On May 8, 2019, the Court granted in part Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed several of Plaintiffs’ claims due to their failure to secure a causation expert to support their theory that their horses were injured or died due to the alleged monensin poisoning. Plaintiffs have moved the Court to reconsider its May 8, 2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order.
Ramirez v. Benito Valley Farms, LLC, No. 16-CV-04708-LHK, 2019 WL 2716535 (N.D. Cal. June 28, 2019)
Plaintiff Francisca Ramirez (“Plaintiff”) sued Defendant Benito Valley Farm, LLC (“Defendant”) for individual claims and representative claims under the California Private Attorney General’s Act (“PAGA”) arising from Plaintiff’s employment with Defendant. On August 25, 2017, the Court granted approval of the parties’ settlement pursuant to PAGA. Before the Court is Plaintiff’s unopposed motion to enforce the settlement. Having considered Plaintiff’s submissions, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court grants Plaintiff’s motion to enforce the settlement.
Quiedan Co. v. United States, No. 2018-1962, 2019 WL 2750863 (Fed. Cir. July 2, 2019)
Quiedan Company is an importer of agricultural stakes produced in the People’s Republic of China. It imports the stakes for use in training grape vines and other plants. Each stake is made of steel concrete reinforcing bar (rebar) by cutting rebar to a length of four to five feet followed by sharpening one end to a point to ease driving the stake into the ground. The United States Department of Commerce concluded that Quiedan’s stakes are clearly within the scope of an antidumping duty order covering rebar from China. The Court sees no substantive or procedural error in that ruling or in Commerce’s continuation of a suspension of liquidation for Quiedan’s stakes. Because the Court of International Trade drew the same conclusions, they affirm.