Thursday, November 14, 2013

Florida Marine Contractors v. Williams case brief

Florida Marine Contractors v. Williams case brief
378 F.Supp.2d 1353

CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiffs, dock builders, sued under the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C.S. § 706, after being notified that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) denied their permit applications. Defendants, the Service and other government officials, moved for judgment on the pleadings, and the dock builders moved for summary judgment. The case involved the scope of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (Act), 16 U.S.C.S. § 1361 et seq.

FACTS: The Service concluded that the building and intended use of the docks would result in the "incidental taking" of the Florida manatee. The dock builders' sole contention was that the Act did not apply to residential docks built on Florida's inland waters, and, therefore, the Service unlawfully applied the Act's provisions to deny their permit applications.

  • The court held that the terms and design of the Act, along with the legislative history, demonstrated clearly that Congress identified man's activities as the undesirable cause of marine mammals' artificially low numbers and recognized these activities as being both commercial and recreational in nature. 
  • Congress' objective was unmistakable: to protect marine mammals from these artificial hazards so that their numbers could reach and maintain equilibrium with their natural habitats. 
  • The "complete cessation" on takings and the provisions governing the issuance of permits established in 16 U.S.C.S. § 1371 was clearly designed to further this objective. 
  • Because the Service's construction and application of the Act was in accord with the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress, the decision to deny the permits was upheld.
CONCLUSION: Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings was granted, and the dock builders' motion for summary judgment was denied.

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