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Flaherty v. Pritzker

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 19, 2014

MICHAEL S. FLAHERTY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PENNY PRITZKER, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Department of Commerce, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Gladys Kessler, United States District Judge

In 2011, Plaintiffs Michael S. Flaherty, Captain Alan A. Hastbacka, and the Ocean River Institute brought this suit against Defendants Commerce Secretary Gary Locke,[1] the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA"), and the National Marine Fisheries Services ("NMFS") (collectively "Defendants"). Plaintiffs alleged that Amendment 4 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan violated the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act ("MSA"), 16 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1884, the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706, and the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4370.

This matter is presently before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce August 2, 2012 Remedial Order Regarding Amendment 4 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan [Dkt. No. 62]. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply, Motion Hearing held February 12, 2014, the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce is denied.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

On April 1, 2011, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint challenging Amendment 4 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan ("FMP"), developed by the New England Fishery Management Council (the "Council"). Flaherty v. Bryson, 850 F. Supp. 2d 38, 45 (D.D.C. 2012) ("Mem. Op.").

Plaintiffs' principal concern was for four species often caught incidentally with Atlantic herring but not, as of the filing of their Complaint, actively managed by the Atlantic Herring FMP. These four species are collectively referred to as "river herring": (1) blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis), (2) alewive (Alosa pseudoharengus), {3) American shad (Alosa sapidissima), and (4) hickory shad (Alosa mediocris) . Id. Like Atlantic herring, river herring provide essential forage for large fish and mammals, including cod, striped bass, bluefin tuna, sharks, marine mammals, and seabirds. Id. The Atlantic Herring FMP, as updated by Amendment 4, provides Annual Catch Limits ("ACLs") and accountability measures ("AMs") for Atlantic herring but not for river herring. Id. at 44-45.

On March 8, 2012, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion [Dkt. No. 31] granting in part and denying in part Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and granting in part and denying in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. On August 2, 2012, the Court issued a detailed Memorandum Order remanding the action to Defendants and containing specific guidance, as well as a timeline, for actions Defendants were to take, and complete, within one year ("Remedial Order") [Dkt. No. 41]. On November 8, 2013, Defendants filed its Final Report on Remedial Actions [Dkt. No. 60].

On November 22, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Enforce August 2, 2012 Remedial Order Regarding Amendment 4 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan [#62]. Defendants' Opposition was filed Dec. 23, 2013 [#65], Plaintiffs' Reply was filed January 10, 2014 [#70], and the Motion to Enforce is now ripe.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

District courts have the authority to enforce the terms of their mandates. See The Fund for Animals v. Norton, 390 F. Supp. 2d 12, 15 (D.D.C. 2005) ("At the outset, the Court notes that district courts clearly have the authority to enforce the terms of their mandates."). The exercise of this authority is "particularly appropriate" when a case returns to a court on a motion to enforce the terms of its mandate to an administrative agency. See Int'l Ladies' Garment Workers' Union v. Donovan, 733 F.2d 920, 922 (D.C. Cir. 1984).

A motion to enforce should be granted if a "prevailing plaintiff demonstrates that a defendant has not complied with a judgment entered against it." Heartland Hosp. v. Thompson, 32 8 F. Supp. 2d 8, 11 (D.D.C. 2004). However, if a plaintiff "has received all relief required by that prior judgment, the motion to enforce is denied." Id. ; see also Heartland Reg' 1 Med. Ctr. v. Leavitt, 415 F.3d 24, 29 (D.C. Cir. 2005) ("Success on a motion to enforce a judgment gets a plaintiff onlyxthe relief to which [the plaintiff] is entitled under [its] original action and the judgment entered therein.'") (quoting Watkins v. Washington, 511 F.2d 404, 406 (D.C. Cir. 1975)).

In a case where a court has remanded an administrative action to the agency for further explanation of a challenged rule, "the court will deny a motion to enforce judgment against the agency if the agency adequately explains its reasons for adopting the rule." Thompson, 328 F. Supp. 2d at 11.

III. ANALYSIS

In its Memorandum Opinion, the Court held that Defendants violated (1) the MSA and APA by failing to "reasonably and rationally consider[] whether Amendment 4's definition of the fishery complied with the [MSA's] National Standards and with the MSA's directive that FMPs be generated for any fisheries requiring conservation and management"; (2) the MSA and APA by approving Amendment 4 "without addressing the minimization of bycatch to the extent practicable"; and (3) NEPA by failing ...


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