Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Special Memories Zoo LLC, No. 21-3057 (7th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The Seventh District remanded this case brought under the Endangered Species Act's citizen-suit provision, 16 U.S.C. 1540(g)(1), for mistreatment of endangered and threatened animals at a Wisconsin private zoo for an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs, holding that the district court's stated reasons were insufficient to deny statutorily-recoverable expenses.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sued Special Memories Zoo and its owners and manager (collectively, Defendants) alleging that the conditions of the endangered and threatened animals' confinement constituted an unlawful "take" under the Act. Defendants first defended the action then intentionally defaulted. After the trial court entered default judgment for ALDF ALDF moved for an award of attorney's fees and costs under 16 U.S.C. 1540(g)(4). The trial court denied the motion. The Seventh District vacated the decision below, holding that the court's reasons were insufficient to justify denying fees when weighed against the purpose and structure of the Act.