Nebraska Beef Producers Committee's suit over state's Livestock Brand Act tossed by judge

By Charmaine Little | Jun 13, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (Legal Newsline) – A beef producer’s ongoing complaint has been dismissed because of a lack of merit, according to an opinion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.

LINCOLN, Neb. (Legal Newsline) – A beef producer’s challenge of a Nebraska law has been dismissed because of a lack of merit, according to a February opinion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.

Nebraska Beef Producers Committee filed a lawsuit against Nebraska Brand Committee and William Bunce, who serves as the defendant’s executive director, challenging the constitutionality of the Nebraska Livestock Brand Act. The plaintiff alleged the Brand Act of infringed its rights under the Commerce Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of merit and failure to state a claim. They also filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 

Judge John M. Gerrard explained Feb. 5 why he found the plaintiff had no just cause for the lawsuit and dismissed the case.

He first addressed the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The defendant stated the plaintiff’s complaint cannot stand because of sovereign immunity and the notion the plaintiff has not “alleged a redressable injury-in-fact caused by the Brand Committee, and because they lack associational standing,” according to the memorandum and order.

When it comes to sovereign immunity, Gerrard stated that argument won’t work as the only relief the plaintiff requested is injunctive. Still, he also pointed out the plaintiff states the Brand Committee is a state agency, and states and state agencies cannot be sued without violating the 11th Amendment. The court subsequently denied the sovereign immunity argument.

As for standing, the court disagreed with the defendant that the plaintiff didn’t state an actual injury as the plaintiff stated the fees such as permit, registration and inspection as required by the defendant allegedly caused injury. The court also ruled to determine the associational standing. It stated the plaintiffs would only need witnesses to join the case to meet that requirement.

The court then ruled on the Commerce Clause and Equal Protection Clause allegations. As for Commerce Clause, it determined the plaintiff didn’t meet the burden to prove interstate commerce actually suffered a burden, and not just the plaintiff. The court also disagreed the defendant infringed on equal protection rights and dismissed the case.

Records show the plaintiff did not appeal the judgment.

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