A citizen filled a suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against a county in the state of Florida. Invoking a vicarious-liability theory, the plaintiffs alleged that the county’s “refusal ... to ban beachfront artificial light sources that adversely impact sea turtles” violated the ESA’s “take” prohibition. Indeed, sea turtle hatchlings suffering from disorientation due to artificial lighting. The Court agreed with the county that it could not be considered the cause of takes produced through lack of enforcement in Ormond Beach and New Smyrna—because the county did not possess the legal authority to enforce municipal ordinances— Yet, the court held that the plaintiffs had established causation vis-à-vis the county based on the county’s regulatory action.
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148 F.3d 1231
The Court rejected the county’s position on standing, finding both causation and redressability. Along the way, the Eleventh Circuit vindicated the vicarious-liability theory.
Court cases cited
Strahan v. Coxe, 127 F.3d 155, 158, 163 (1st Cir. 1997)
Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter of Communities for a Great Or., 515 U.S. 687 (1995)
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992)
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (7 U.S.C. § 136, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.)