Law School Case Brief
Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n - 497 U.S. 871, 110 S. Ct. 3177 (1990)
In ruling upon a Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 motion, a district court must resolve any factual issues of controversy in favor of the non-moving party only in the sense that, where the facts specifically averred by that party contradict facts specifically averred by the movant, the motion must be denied
Respondent National Wildlife Federation filed this action in the District Court against petitioners, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other federal parties, alleging that, in various respects, they had violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) in the course of administering the BLM's "land withdrawal review program," and that the complained-of actions should be set aside because they were "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law" within the meaning of § 10(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U. S. C. § 706. Under the program, petitioners make various types of decisions affecting the status of public lands and their availability for private uses such as mining, a number of which decisions were listed in an appendix to the complaint. The court granted petitioners' motion for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, holding that respondent lacked standing to seek judicial review of petitioners' actions under § 702 of the the APA. The court ruled that affidavits by two of respondent's members, Peterson and Erman, claiming use of public lands "in the vicinity" of lands covered by two of the listed decisions, were insufficient to confer standing as to those particular decisions, and that, even if they had been adequate for that limited purpose, they could not support respondent's attempted APA challenge to each of the 1,250 or so individual actions effected under the program. The court rejected as untimely four more member affidavits pertaining to standing, which were submitted after argument on the summary judgment motion and in purported response to the District Court's postargument request for additional briefing. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Peterson and Erman affidavits were sufficient in themselves, that it was an abuse of discretion not to consider the four additional affidavits, and that standing to challenge the individual decisions conferred standing to challenge all such decisions.
Did the court of appeals err in holding that the Peterson and Erman affidavits were sufficient to raise an issue of material fact?
The United States Supreme Court held that the two affidavits, which had been submitted by the Federation to contest the motion for summary judgment when it was first presented, failed to raise an issue of material fact. There was no showing that affiants' recreational use and enjoyment extended to particular acres, which were withdrawn out of the thousands of acres of land that were not. The conclusory statements lacked the specificity needed to show facts in dispute. The Court also ruled that the trial court had rightfully rejected accepting additional affidavits that were proffered after the matter had been remanded on the first appeal. These affidavits failed to direct their attack against specific agency action. Some concrete action applying the regulation was necessary before the action could be ripe for review. The Court also found the affidavits to be untimely.
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