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PETA, Inc. v. Stein

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

January 24, 2018, Submitted; June 5, 2018, Decided

No. 17-1669

Opinion

 [*125]  PER CURIAM:

Plaintiffs-Appellants People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. ("PETA"), Animal Legal Defense Fund ("ALDF"), and six additional public-interest organizations brought this action against Carol Folt, in her official capacity as Chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill"), and Josh Stein, in his official capacity as Attorney General of North Carolina, asserting a pre-enforcement challenge to the North Carolina Property Protection Act. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 99A-2 (2016). The district court dismissed Plaintiffs' amended complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), holding that Plaintiffs had failed to allege an injury-in-fact sufficient to confer standing for purposes of Article III of the United States Constitution. We hold that the district court erred in dismissing Plaintiffs' claims at this stage of the proceedings. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

] The North Carolina Property Protection Act (hereinafter the "Act") provides a private right of action against any person who "exceed[s] [**5]  the scope of authorized access" to the property of an owner or operator.

Any person who intentionally gains access to the nonpublic areas of another's premises and engages in an act that exceeds the person's authority to enter those areas is liable to the owner or operator of the premises for any damages sustained. For the purposes of this section, "nonpublic areas" shall mean those areas not accessible to or not intended to be accessed by the general public.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 99A-2(a). ] "Act[s] that exceed[] a person's authority to enter the nonpublic areas of another's premises" include the following scenarios:

(1) An employee who enters the nonpublic areas of an employer's premises for a reason other than a bona fide intent of seeking or holding employment or doing business with the employer and thereafter without authorization captures or removes the employer's data, paper, records, or any other documents and uses the information to breach the person's duty of loyalty to the employer.

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737 Fed. Appx. 122 *; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 15090 **; 2018 WL 2714684

PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, INC.; ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND; CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY; FOOD & WATER WATCH; FARM SANCTUARY; GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT; AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS; FARM FORWARD, Plaintiffs - Appellants, v. ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSHUA STEIN, Attorney General of the State of North Carolina; CAROL L. FOLT, in her official capacity as Chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Defendants - Appellees. ALAN CHEN; ERWIN CHEMERINSKY; ERIC FINK; JUSTIN PIDOT; JOHN F. PREIS; ALEXANDER A. REINERT; THE REPORTERS COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS; AMERICAN SOCIETY OF NEWS EDITORS; ASSOCIATED PRESS MEDIA EDITORS; ASSOCIATION OF ALTERNATIVE NEWSMEDIA; ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN PUBLISHERS, INC.; BRECHNER CENTER FOR FREEDOM OF INFORMATION; THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER; FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION; FREEDOM OF THE PRESS FOUNDATION; GATEHOUSE MEDIA, LLC; INTER AMERICAN PRESS ASSOCIATION; INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY ASSOCIATION; INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING PROGRAM AT UC BERKELEY; INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING WORKSHOP AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY; MEREDITH CORPORATION, d/b/a WHNS-TV (Greenville, SC); MPA- THE ASSOCIATION OF MAGAZINE MEDIA; NATIONAL PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION; THE NEWS & OBSERVER; PEN AMERICA; RADIO TELEVISION DIGITAL NEWS ASSOCIATION; REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS; SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP, INC.; 2 SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS; STUDENT PRESS LAW CENTER; TULLY CENTER FOR FREE SPEECH; WTVD TELEVISION, LLC, Amici Supporting Appellants

Notice: PLEASE REFER TO FEDERAL RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE RULE 32.1 GOVERNING THE CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, at Greensboro. (1:16-cv-00025-TDS-JEP). Thomas D. Schroeder, Chief District Judge.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Stein, 259 F. Supp. 3d 369, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66310 (M.D.N.C., May 2, 2017)

Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

animal, investigations, premises, facilities, quotation, marks, alleges, plans, district court, undercover investigation, First Amendment, injury-in-fact, chilling, targeted, lawsuit, nonpublic, unethical, amended complaint, pre-enforcement, organizations, purposes, records, exemplary damages, credible threat, proceedings, speculative, imminent, missions, damages, refrain

Real Property Law, Torts, Trespass to Real Property, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Justiciability, Standing, Burdens of Proof, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Elements, Injury in Fact, Preliminary Considerations, Standing, Fundamental Freedoms, Judicial & Legislative Restraints