Ninth Circuit Finds No Standing in Six States’ Challenge to California Egg Production Laws
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the attorneys general of six states—Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky and Iowa—do not have standing to sue California AG Kamala Harris in an attempt to block enforcement of a law requiring egg-production facilities to provide hens enough space to fully extend their limbs and turn around freely in the confinement in which they spend the majority of the day. Missouri v. Harris, No. 14-17111 (9th Cir., order entered November 17, 2016). The court found that the plaintiff states did not have parens patriae standing, the standing provided to a governmental entity as the legal protector of its citizens. The states could not “articulate an interest apart from the interests of private egg producers, who could have filed an action on their own behalf,” the court held. Further, the states’ allegations about potential economic damages were speculative, and “the allegations of discrimination were misplaced because the laws do not distinguish among eggs based on their state of origin.” The court remanded the case and ordered the lower court to dismiss the case without prejudice.