Louisiana Sportsmen Alliance LLC v Vilsack (2014) H&FLR 2014-60

Louisiana Sportsmen Alliance LLC v Tom Vilsack and Ors (2014) H&FLR 2014-60

United States Court of Appeal (Fifth Circuit)

28 October 2014

Coram: Prado, Elrod and Graves JJ.

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Charles D Elliott (of Vilar & Elliott)*
Appearing for the Defendant: Jennifer Frederick, Courtney Joiner and Katherine Vincent (of the US Attorneys Office)*

Catchwords: Louisiana – hunting – hunting with dogs prohibited – standing to sue

Facts:  For many years the US Forest Service allowed the use of dogs in deer hunting in Kisatchie National Forest (forest).  In 2009 the Service proposed banning hunting deer with dogs, and after significant consultation the ban was adopted in 2012.

The Plaintiff – an organisation representing the interests of deer hunters using dogs – challenged the decision and issued proceedings in the US District Court.  It was asserted that the Service’s decision was arbitrary and capricious pursuant to 5 USC §§702 and 706 of the Administrative Procedures Act.  The application was dismissed: Louisiana Sportsmen Alliance LLC v Vilsack, 984 F.Supp.2d 600 (W.D. La. 2013).  The plaintiff appealed.  On appeal the defendant for the first time raised an argument that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue.

Held: Per curiam, allowing the appeal –

1.  Standing to sue is a jurisdictional requirement which cannot be waived and which may be raised by the parties or Court at any time.

NAACP v City of Kyle, Texas, 626 F.3d 233 (5th Cir., 2010) and MCG Inc v Great Western Energy Corp., 896 F.2d 170 (5th cir., 1990), followed.

2.  For an organisation to have standing to sue, it must show that –

(a) Its asserted legally protected interest is relevant to its purposes.

(b) One of its members would have standing to sue in their own right.  To satisfy this requirement, one of the organisation’s members must show that –

(i) They have suffered (or will imminently suffer) a specific identifiable invasion of a legally protected interest.
(ii) The defendant’s challenged action is fairly identifiable as the cause of the injury.
(iii) It is likely (viz., not speculative) that a favourable decision will redress the injury.

(c) Participation of individual members in the proceeding is not required.

Hunt v Washington State Apple Advertising Commission, 432 US 333 (1977) and Lujan v Defenders of Wildlife, 504 US 555 (1992), followed.

3.  The plaintiff had neither alleged nor established any details regarding its nature or purpose, nor that any of its members had suffered a specific injury.  Accordingly it had failed to establish standing and so the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to consider the matter.

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.

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* I have not been able to confirm the involvement of these practitioners, who appeared in the matter at first instance; I have assumed that parties retained the same counsel on appeal.