Atay v. County of Maui, No. 15-16466 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In November 2014, the Voters of Maui County passed a ballot initiative banning the cultivation and testing of genetically engineered (GE) plants. The district court granted the GE Parties’ motion for summary judgment filed in the Robert Ito Farm action and granted the County’s motion to dismiss filed in the Atay action. The district court found the Ordinance unenforceable because it was expressly and impliedly preempted by federal law, impliedly preempted by state law, and in excess of the County’s authority under the Maui County Charter. SHAKA appealed the district court’s judgment in both cases. The court concluded that SHAKA and other appellants have Article III standing based on the allegations of five individual appellants who allege that GE farming operations on Maui threaten economic harm to their organic, non-GE farms. The court also concluded that the district court did not err in denying SHAKA’s motion to remand to state court, and in denying SHAKA’s request for Rule 56(d) discovery. The court held that the Ordinance is expressly preempted by the Plant Protection Act, 7 U.S.C. 7756(b), to the extent that it bans GE plants that the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulates as plant pests. The court held that the ban is not impliedly preempted by the Plant Protection Act in its application to GE crops that APHIS has deregulated, but is impliedly preempted in this application by Hawaii’s comprehensive state statutory scheme for the regulation of potentially harmful plants. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and its dismissal in two related actions related to the ordinance.