Animal Legal Defense Fund v. US Department of Agriculture, No. 18-16327 (9th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The term "individual" as used in the Freedom of Information Act's expedited processing provisions does not include an animal as well as a human being. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the USDA in an action brought by the ALDF under FOIA. Determining that the district court had jurisdiction to review the FOIA suit, the panel held that ALDF's action was not moot where ALDF asserted a pattern or practice FOIA claim alleging that the agency's policy or practice would impair ALDF's lawful access to information in the center. The panel also held that, where, as here, "individual" is used as a noun with no corresponding group or category, its plain meaning is "human being." Therefore, the panel rejected ALDF's assertion that the term "individual" in these circumstances included animals.