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Environmental Defense Fund v. Thomas

Citation: 17 ELR 20283
No. No. 85-1747, 24 ERC 1853/(D.D.C., 08/19/1986) Attorneys fees awarded

The court grants attorneys fees and expenses of $49,738.14 under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) § 7002 for costs of challenging Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) delay in promulgating underground waste disposal tank regulations under RCRA § 3004(w). After reviewing the underlying litigation challenging EPA's and OMB's actions in promulgating the underground waste disposal tank regulations, the court holds that plaintiffs prevailed on some of the significant issues of the litigation, and acted as a catalyst to EPA and OMB acknowledgement of the unlawfulness of their delay. The litigation resulted in a court-ordered schedule for promulgation of the regulations, and declaratory relief that OMB interference after statutory or judicial deadlines had passed was illegal. The court notes that EPA and OMB contested the court's ruling in the litigation, and holds that plaintiffs have reached the necessary threshold of having been a prevailing party in the underlying litigation.

The court then holds that the plaintiffs' specific requests for fees and expenses are reasonable. The plaintiffs were sufficiently successful in achieving their goals so as not to merit a reduction of fees on this basis. The court observes that plaintiffs voluntarily reduced their request to account for incomplete success, and the hourly rates imputed are below those locally prevailing for lawyers of similar experience. The court awards $48,910.75 in attorneys fees and $827.39 in expenses.

[The opinion in the underlying litigation appears at 16 ELR 20250 and is analyzed at 17 ELR 10017.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Robert V. Percival, David J. Lennett
Environmental Defense Fund, Inc.
1616 P St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 387-3500

Counsel for Defendants
F. Henry Habicht II, Margaret N. Strand, Robert E. Steinberg, Barry S. Neuman
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2716