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Leigh v. Salazar

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 22, 2014

LAURA LEIGH, Plaintiff,
v.
KEN SALAZAR, et al., Defendants.

ORDER (DEFS.' PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS - DKT. NO. 68)

MIRANDA M. DU, District Judge.

I. SUMMARY

Before the Court is Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss, seeking to dismiss the first, second and fourth claims for relief. (Dkt. no. 68.) For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Plaintiff initiates this action to prevent further inhumane gathers and emergency gathers that the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") conducted and plans to conduct on the Owyhee Complex, and to enforce Plaintiff's qualified right of access under the First Amendment to observe, document, and report on the Owyhee Complex roundups. (Dkt. no. 82 at 1-5.)

The Owyhee Complex is comprised of five designated wild horse Herd Management Areas ("HMA"): Little Humboldt, Owyhee, Rock Creek, Little Owyhee, and Snowstorm. ( Id. at 3.) The Complex is managed by two BLM district offices: Winnemucca and Elko. ( Id. )

The BLM has conducted roundups in the Owyhee Complex based on a ten-year Environmental Assessment ("EA") that runs from November 26, 2012, to November 25, 2022. ( Id. at 2-3.) The EA estimates that there are 2, 267 horses living in the Owyhee Complex but that the appropriate management level ("AML") is between 621 and 999 horses. ( See dkt no. 14 at 6.) The EA states that "[e]stablishing AML as a population range allows for the periodic removal of excess animals to the low range of AML and allows for subsequent population growth up to the high range of AML between removals (gathers)." ( See dkt. no. 14-1 at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that the EA is inadequate. (Dkt. no. 82 at 4-7, 45.)

The first roundup in the Owyhee Complex began in the Little Owyhee HMA on November 26, 2012; it concluded on December 19, 2012. ( See dkt. no. 17 at 5.) Plaintiff states that approximately 819 horses were removed during this gather. ( See dkt. no. 14 at 3.) A second phase of the roundup was scheduled to commence in the Owyhee HMA on January 4, 2013, and, after a brief halt, was completed in January 2013. Defendants have represented that no roundup, including helicopter roundups, is scheduled in the Owyhee Complex for the next 2 to 3 years. ( See dkt. no. 17 at 7.)

B. Procedural History

On January 4, 2013, the same day that the roundup's second phase was meant to start, Plaintiff filed her Complaint (dkt. no. 1) and an Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (dkt. no. 2) to enjoin its continuation. The Court granted the Emergency Motion the same day and set an expedited briefing schedule and a hearing date. On January 10, 2013, the Court conducted a hearing and lifted the Temporary Restraining Order, allowing the BLM to gather wild horses in the Owyhee HMA under humane conditions. (Dkt. nos. 15-16.) The same day, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction. (Dkt. no. 14.) The Court set a hearing date for the Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which the parties jointly asked to postpone multiple times. ( See dkt. nos. 21, 25, 26.) The Motion was heard and denied on August 21, 2013 (dkt. no. 51), followed by a written order on August 27, 2013 (dkt. no. 53).

Plaintiff filed a Second Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order on August 9, 2013 (dkt. no. 31), and a Third Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order on August 14, 2013 (dkt. no. 36). The Court denied the Second Emergency Motion on August 21, 2013 (dkt. no. 51), and denied the Third Emergency Motion following a hearing on August 16, 2013 (dkt. no. 49).

Plaintiff first moved to amend the Complaint on August 9, 2013. (Dkt. no. 30.) The Court denied the Motion for failure to comply with procedural requirements and granted Plaintiff leave to file a motion that complies with Local Rule 15-1. (Dkt. no. 51.) On August 22, 2013, Plaintiff filed her Second Motion to Amend, which was granted.[1] (Dkt. no. 64.)

The SAC alleges four claims for relief. (Dkt. no. 82 at 40-49.) Defendants have moved to dismiss the first, second ...


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