Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bennett v. Spear case brief

Bennett v. Spear case brief summary
5 F.Supp.2d 882

CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff farmers filed suit against defendants, the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and other government officials, alleging an arbitrary and capricious decision regarding a jeopardy finding in a managed region. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

FACTS: In the managed area, it was determined that a fish species was in jeopardy due to low lake levels. The farmers benefitted from irrigation from the lake. That irrigation would be jeopardized by placing a floor on the lake level. The farmers contended that, under the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C.S. § 706, the findings of the Director were arbitrary and capricious because he did not find that the operations of individual lakes would jeopardize the fish in question. The Director contended that he was not obligated to analyze individual bodies of water, but the project as a whole. 


  • The court examined the issues and the motions and determined that it did not have a fully developed record. 
  • The Director was ordered to determine whether the operation of the individual lakes was interrelated or interdependent with the entire project and whether the operation of the project had a material effect on the operation of the individual lakes. 
  • Further, the Director was ordered to determine whether reasonable and prudent alternatives would alleviate the jeopardy situation in the lakes, whether they be interdependent or interrelated.
CONCLUSION: The court remanded the action to the Director for a further development of the record.

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