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Alternative Research & Dev. Found. v. Veneman

Citation: 32 ELR 20142
No. No. 00-5438, 262 F.3d 406/(D.C. Cir., 09/07/2001)

The court affirms a district court decision denying a biomedical association's motion to intervene in an alternative research group's challenge of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) animal research regulation as well as the association's motion to vacate a subsequent stipulated dismissal entered between the USDA and the research group. The case arose after the alternative research group filed a petition for rulemaking requesting that the USDA amend the definition of "animal" to remove the definition's current exclusion of birds, mice, and rats bred for use in research. While the group's petition was pending, it filed a complaint in district court, alleging that the definition violated the Animal Welfare Act. The biomedical association, which uses birds, rats, and mice in research, filed a motion to intervene as of right. The USDA and the alternative research group then entered into a stipulation of dismissal that provides that the USDA will grant the group's petition to amend the definition and will initiate and complete rulemaking within a reasonable time. The association then filed a motion to vacate the stipulation, but the district court denied its motion to vacate the stipulation as well as its motion to intervene. The association then appealed. The court first holds that the denial of intervention as of right is an appealable, final order regardless of the merits of the claim for intervention as of right. Similarly, the court holds that because it can potentially grant the association effective relief, its appeal of the stipulated dismissal is not moot. Nevertheless, the court further holds that the association's concerns about the terms of the stipulated dismissal are insufficient to constitute an interest requiring intervention. It is not precluded from participating in the rulemaking, and if the USDA decides to issue a final rule, the association may challenge that rule. Consequently, because the district court correctly denied intervention, the association is not a party to the action and it lacks standing to appeal the stipulated dismissal.

Counsel for Appellees
John Mendelson III
International Center for Technology Assessment
310 D St. NE, Washington DC 20002
(202) 547-9359

Counsel for Appellant
Michael P. Socarras
Greenberg Traurig
800 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 331-3100

Before Ginsburg, Williams, and Randolph, JJ.