Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Agriculture Law

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Plaintiffs brought an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court, alleging that defendants wrongfully failed to pay debtor for produce held in trust for plaintiffs, in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. The Second Circuit agreed with the bankruptcy judge and district court and affirmed summary judgment for plaintiffs, but held that defendants should receive a pro rata share of assets of the trust established under the Act. Because assets subject to the Act are held in a ʺfloatingʺ trust for the benefit of unpaid produce suppliers and never become part of a bankruptcy estate, when a purchaser of produce files for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, a creditor covered by the Actʹs provisions is entitled to a pro rata share of trust assets, but not to a complete offset of mutual debts between it and the bankrupt. In this case, although defendants did not file a proof of claim after the district court issued a claims process order under the Act, they preserved their claims by providing statutorily required notice to debtor in connection with each pre‐bankruptcy sale of fresh produce; filed a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court before the district court had issued the claims process order; and reasonably, although mistakenly, thought that they could vindicate their rights as creditors using a bankruptcy offset. View "The PACA Trust Creditors v. Genecco Produce Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action complaint alleging that Abbott violated New York and California statutes and common law by advertising and selling Similac infant formula branded as organic and bearing the "USDA Organic" seal when the formula contained ingredients not permitted by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). The court held that plaintiffs' claims were preempted by federal law and the court need not address Abbott's remaining arguments based on primary jurisdiction, failure to exhaust, or failure to state a claim. The court reasoned that there was no way to rule in plaintiffs' favor without contradicting the certification decision, and thus the certification scheme that Congress enacted in the OFPA. View "Marentette v. Abbott Laboratories" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action complaint alleging that Abbott violated New York and California statutes and common law by advertising and selling Similac infant formula branded as organic and bearing the "USDA Organic" seal when the formula contained ingredients not permitted by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). The court held that plaintiffs' claims were preempted by federal law and the court need not address Abbott's remaining arguments based on primary jurisdiction, failure to exhaust, or failure to state a claim. The court reasoned that there was no way to rule in plaintiffs' favor without contradicting the certification decision, and thus the certification scheme that Congress enacted in the OFPA. View "Marentette v. Abbott Laboratories" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs contend that the FDA is required by 21 U.S.C. 360b(e)(1) to proceed with hearings to determine whether to withdraw approval for the use of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed, and that the FDA's denial of two citizen petitions demanding such hearings was arbitrary or capricious within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. 706(2). Based on the court's survey of the text, the context, the regulations, and the background legal principles, the court concluded that Congress has not required the FDA to hold hearings whenever FDA officials have scientific concerns about the safety of animal drug usage, that the FDA retains the discretion to institute or terminate proceedings to withdraw approval of animal drugs by issuing or withdrawing notices of opportunity for hearing (NOOHs), and that the statutory mandate contained in section 360b(e)(1) applies to limit the FDA's remedial discretion by requiring withdrawal of approval of animal drugs or particular uses of such drugs only when the FDA has made a final determination, after notice and hearing, that the drug could pose a threat to human health and safety. The court also concluded that it is not arbitrary or capricious for the FDA to pursue policies intended to reduce the use of animal feed containing antibiotics through a variety of steps short of withdrawing approval for the use of antibiotics in feed via a protracted administrative process and likely litigation. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment to the contrary and remanded for further proceedings.View "NRDC v. US FDA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appeal from an order of the district court dismissing their complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiffs argued that New York's Kosher Law Protection Act of 2004 (Kosher Act), N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law 201-a-201-d, violated the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment and was unconstitutionally vague. The court held that the Kosher Act did not violate the Establishment Clause because it neither advanced or impeded religion, had a secular purpose, and did not create an excessive entanglement between state and religion. The court further held that the Kosher Act did not violate the Free Exercise Clause because it was neutral, generally applicable, minimally burdensome, and had a rational basis. Finally, even under the strictest scrutiny, the inspection provision was not void for vagueness. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Commack Self-Service Kosher v. Hooker" on Justia Law