Thursday, November 14, 2013

Born Free USA v. Norton case brief

Born Free USA v. Norton case brief
278 F.Supp.2d 5

CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff advocates for the welfare of elephants sued defendant federal officials, alleging that the officials improperly issued a permit for zoos to import endangered African elephants in violation of the Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species (CITES), T.I.A.S. No. 8249 (1973), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C.S. § 4321 et seq. The advocates moved for a preliminary injunction against the importation.

The zoos sought to import the wild elephants from a foreign country which determined that its herd needed to be reduced and that the elephants would be killed if they were not exported. The advocates contended that the officials improperly found under CITES that the importation of the elephants was not detrimental to the species and was not for a primarily commercial purpose, and that the officials failed to conduct an appropriate environmental evaluation as required by NEPA. 

  • The court held, however, that the advocates failed to show a likelihood of success to warrant preliminary injunctive relief. 
  • Despite potential detrimental effects to the remaining foreign herd, no overall detriment to the species was shown since the elephants were to be used for breeding and proceeds from the importation benefitted the foreign elephant habitat.
  • Further, the zoos' purposes of education and breeding outweighed their commercial purpose of increased admissions revenue. 
  • Finally, the limited federal role in approving the importation did not require an assessment of environmental impacts in the foreign country and was properly found to have no significant environmental impact in the United States.
CONCLUSION: The advocates' motion for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the importation of the elephants was denied.

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