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Oyster company wins emergency injunction suspending administration’s decision pending appeal

Workers bring in freshly harvested oysters at Drakes Bay Oyster Company / AP
February 25, 2013

The Drakes Bay Oyster Company won a preliminary injunction from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, suspending a decision by the Department of the Interior to close the oyster farm until the case can be further litigated, Cause of Action announced Monday.

Secretary of the interior Ken Salazar decided last year not to renew the  oyster company's special use permit to operate on federally owned land. The land has been designated a wildlife preserve.

The company would have had to close and leave the property on the Drakes Bay Estero in Northern California by the end of February without the injunction. Employees who live on the farm would have lost their housing and the premature oysters in the bay would have been lost.

"Appellants’ emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal is granted because there are serious legal questions and the balance of hardships tips sharply in appellants’ favor," the three-judge panel wrote in its decision.

"We are grateful that the Ninth Circuit has chosen to allow Drakes Bay Oyster Company to continue operating and recognized the hardships that would have resulted from shutting down the farm before its case could be heard," said Amber Abbasi, chief counsel for regulatory affairs at Cause of Action, in a statement. Cause of Action is a nonprofit government watchdog group based in Washington, D.C.

The company is alleging that the Department of the Interior failed to follow procedural and data quality regulations when making its decision.

A Department of the Interior spokesman said the department does not comment on ongoing litigation.