Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kuehl v. Sellner

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 11, 2018

Tracey K. Kuehl, an individual; Lisa K. Kuehl, an individual; Kris A. Bell; Nancy A. Harvey, an individual; John T. Braumann, an individual; Animal Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit corporation Plaintiffs - Appellees
v.
Pamela Sellner, an individual; Tom Sellner, an individual; Cricket Hollow Zoo, a non-profit corporation Defendants - Appellants The Fund for Animals; Delcianna J. Winders, an Academic Fellow; Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Inc.; Center for Biological Diversity; Endangered Primate Foundation; Public Citizen, Inc.; Humane Society of the United States Amid on Behalf of Appellee(s) Tracey K. Kuehl, an individual; Lisa K. Kuehl, an individual; Kris A. Bell; Nancy A. Harvey, an individual; John T. Braumann, an individual; Animal Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit corporation Plaintiffs - Appellants
v.
Pamela Sellner, an individual; Tom Sellner, an individual; Cricket Hollow Zoo, a non-profit corporation Defendants - Appellees Public Citizen, Inc.; Humane Society of the United States; The Fund for Animals; Delcianna J. Winders, an Academic Fellow; Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Inc.; Center for Biological Diversity; Endangered Primate Foundation Amid on Behalf of Appellant (s)

          Submitted: October 19, 2017

          Appeals from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Waterloo

          Before WOLLMAN and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges, and GOLDBERG, [1] Judge.

          WOLLMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Tracey K. Kuehl (Tracey), Lisa K. Kuehl (Lisa), Kris A. Bell, Nancy A. Harvey, John T. Braumann, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (plaintiffs) brought suit against Pamela Sellner, Tom Sellner, and Cricket Hollow Zoo (defendants) under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. (the Act), seeking to enjoin defendants' mistreatment of endangered species. Following a four-day bench trial, the district court[2] ordered that the endangered species be transferred to another facility and denied plaintiffs' request for attorney fees and costs. Defendants appeal, arguing that plaintiffs lack standing to bring suit and that-assuming standing-the defendants did not violate the Act. Plaintiffs also appeal, challenging the district court's placement decision for the animals, as well as the court's denial of their request for attorney fees. We affirm.

         I. Background

         Pamela and Tom Sellner own and operate the Cricket Hollow Zoo (Cricket Hollow) in Manchester, Iowa. Cricket Hollow houses approximately 300 animals, including tigers, lemurs, wolves, cougars, monkeys, and birds. Pamela and Tom are the only full-time workers, assisted by occasional volunteer labor. No one, including the Sellners, is paid for their work. In addition to operating Cricket Hollow, the Sellners run a 70-cow Grade A dairy farm.

         In 2012 and 2013, Tracey, Lisa, Harvey, and Braumann visited Cricket Hollow.[3] Each had concerns about the animals' mental health and physical well-being, noting excessive feces in the animals' cages, an overpowering smell of manure, and a lack of environmental enrichment to keep the animals entertained. Tracey observed that the Cricket Hollow lemur cage contained only one log-unlike other zoos she had visited that had several "vertical structures" for the lemurs to perch on and climb. Braumann saw a lemur living in isolation, which upset him because he knew that lemurs were "extremely social." Tracey also noted that the tiger cages lacked grass, vegetation, and toys. Braumann was disappointed that the tiger cages had a single bowling ball for environmental enrichment and that feces had accumulated in the cages. Plaintiffs reported their concerns to regulatory agencies, the county sheriff, and other public officials. Dissatisfied with the results they had obtained, plaintiffs filed this lawsuit. Although Tracey, Lisa, Harvey, and Braumann have not returned to Cricket Hollow since 2013, they all agree that they would return if the conditions improved.

         During trial, Dr. Peter Klopfer-a research professor at the Duke University Lemur Center-testified regarding the generally accepted animal husbandry practices for lemurs, explaining that lemurs are "highly developed animals" that have "advanced cognitive abilities." Dr. Klopfer testified that lemurs are a "very social species, " with the result that social isolation leads to "elevated noradrenaline levels, " that predict "susceptibility to disease and early death." Dr. Klopfer explained that the effects of social isolation can be mitigated by the presence of environmental enrichment, such as trees and ropes, enrichment that Cricket Hollow did not provide. Dr. Klopfer further testified that lemurs have a "much greater sensitivity to olfactory stimuli" than humans. He explained that lemurs use numerous scent glands to communicate to other lemurs information such as "[a]ge, sex, reproductive status, degree of aggressivity; a host of things that [people] in an exchange would convey verbally or in writing, [lemurs] convey olfactorily." Dr. Klopfer concluded that "[t]he presence of feces and cobwebs . . . interferes with [the lemurs'] olfactory senses[.]" By way of analogy, Dr. Klopfer explained that having lemurs "in a smelly environment is like having [humans] be in a room where there's constantly white noise being amplified, " because the smell disrupts the lemurs' normal behavioral patterns.

         The plaintiffs also submitted several reports that documented conditions at Cricket Hollow. The reports repeatedly noted excessive animal waste in the animal enclosures and revealed that Cricket Hollow had been assessed financial penalties, at least in part because of the unsanitary conditions at the zoo. Dr. Jennifer Conrad, a wildlife and exotic animal veterinarian, testified that an accumulation of feces also constituted a "disease hazard" for animals at the zoo.

         The district court's lengthy post-trial order held that Cricket Hollow's treatment of its lemurs and tigers violated the Act by keeping the lemurs in social isolation; by not "develop[ing], document[ing], and follow[ing] an appropriate" environmental enrichment plan for the lemurs; by "fail[ing] to provide timely and appropriate veterinary care" for the tigers; and by not "providing clean water and sanitary conditions for the [lemurs and tigers]."

         II. Standing

         We review de novo the district court's ruling that plaintiffs have standing to enforce the Act. Hodak v. City of St. Peters, 535 F.3d 899, 903 (8th Cir. 2008). To establish standing, plaintiffs must show at a minimum "an injury in fact, meaning the actual or imminent invasion of a concrete and particularized legal interest; a causal connection between the alleged injury and the challenged action of defendant; and a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision of the court." Sierra Club v. Kimbell, 623 F.3d 549, 556 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992)). The only element in dispute is whether plaintiffs have suffered an injury in fact.

         The Supreme Court held that the Lujan plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge rules promulgated by the United States Secretary of the Interior affecting endangered species overseas because they had not traveled to the affected areas-Egypt and Sri Lanka-for more than five years and had no current plans to return. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 557-58, 563-64. The Court explained that plaintiffs' "some day" intentions to return to Egypt and Sri Lanka "without any description of concrete plans, or indeed even any specification of when the some day will be-[did] not support a finding of [] 'actual or imminent' injury." Id. at 564. Defendants argue that plaintiffs have not demonstrated the "actual and imminent" injury required by Lujan because they have not specifically identified when they intend to return to Cricket Hollow. Unlike the plaintiffs in Lujan, however, plaintiffs here need not travel to distant places to observe the animals they fear are being harmed by violations of the Act, since all are Iowa residents and live within hours of Cricket Hollow. Tracey, Lisa, and Braumann have each visited Cricket Hollow more than once, which differentiates their proposed plans to return to the zoo if conditions improve from the vague, abstract, "some day" intentions described in Lujan. Their claim of standing is supported by the Supreme Court's ruling in Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 183 (2000), which explained that "environmental plaintiffs adequately allege injury in fact when they aver that they use the affected area and are persons 'for whom the aesthetic and recreational values of the area will be lessened' by the challenged activity." (quoting Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 735 (1972); citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 562-63). The Court distinguished its ruling in Laidlaw from Lujan, explaining "[n]or can the [plaintiffs'] conditional statements-that they would use the nearby North Tyger River for recreation if Laidlaw were not discharging pollutants into it-be equated with the speculative '"some day" intentions' to visit endangered species halfway around the world that we held insufficient to show injury in fact in [Lujan]." Id. at 184 (citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 564).

         Defendants argue in the alternative that plaintiffs lack standing because "the Plaintiffs visited the Cricket Hollow Zoo for the purpose of looking for claimed violations." Defendants rely on Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, 568 U.S. 398 (2013), and Pennsylvania v. New Jersey, 426 U.S. 660 (1976) (per curiam), for the proposition that plaintiffs cannot manufacture standing by inflicting harm upon themselves. In Clapper, the Court ruled that plaintiffs could not manufacture standing by expending resources to avoid a speculative, hypothetical harm. 568 U.S. at 415-16. In Pennsylvania, the Court ruled that its original jurisdiction over disputes between states could not be invoked when a state's own legislative decisions caused the alleged harm. 426 U.S. at 663-64. Defendants' argument assumes that Tracey, Lisa, Harvey, and Braumann inflicted injury upon themselves by visiting Cricket Hollow. This argument, however, mischaracterizes plaintiffs' injury, which instead stems from Cricket Hollow's inability to properly care for its animals. The Supreme Court recognized this distinction in Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 373-74 (1982), in which it ruled that housing applicants had standing to bring suit against a realty company even when the applicants' sole purpose for applying for housing was to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.