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Oyster company appeals eviction from federal land

February 7, 2013

The Drakes Bay Oyster Company is appealing a judge’s decision to deny injunctive relief against the secretary of the interior’s decision not to renew the business’ permit to use federal land, Cause of Action announced Wednesday.

"We are committed to fighting against government abuse and overreach to keep the Lunny family in business … and are taking all the necessary legal steps to appeal this ruling," said Amber Abbasi, Cause of Action’s chief counsel for regulatory affairs, in a statement. Cause of Action is representing the company and its owner in this case along with Briscoe Ivester & Bazel, LLP, and SSL Law.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company asked for a preliminary injunction that would allow them to keep operating on Drakes Estero federal land in California until a judge can decide the case on the merits. The company will have to leave the premises by the end of February without an injunction and will likely go out of business.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held the hearing for the preliminary injunction on Jan. 25.

"We continue to be grateful for the outpouring of support from our community," said Kevin Lunny, the business owner, in a statement.

"If the judge doesn’t grant this injunction, the business will be lost," Abbasi said before the hearing.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar allowed the company’s special use permit to lapse at the end of November 2012. Drakes Bay Oyster Company sued to reclaim the permit in December.

The company alleged Salazar relied on faulty data in making his decision, breaking several federal laws. The company also argues the secretary misinterpreted the language in an obscure part of an appropriations bill to excuse him from following federal requirements for making this kind of decision.

Judge Gonzalez Rodgers ruled the court "does not have jurisdiction to review the secretary’s decision," and even if it did, "plaintiffs have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of the claims nor that the balancing of the equities favors injunctive relief."

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is stepping down from his cabinet post. President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday that Sally Jewell would replace him.

The Department of the Interior does not comment on ongoing litigation, a department spokesman said.