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North Slope Borough v. Andrus

Citation: 11 ELR 20419
No. No. 79-3193, 515 F. Supp. 961/16 ERC 2101/(D.D.C., 05/05/1981) Attorneys fees increased

Granting defendants' motion for reconsideration of its judgment awarding $59,000 in attorneys fees to plaintiffs, 11 ELR 20293, the court increases the amount awarded to $231,000. The test of the appropriateness of an award of fees is whether the underlying suit was a prudent and desirable effort to achieve an unfulfilled objective of the statute at issue — in this case the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Plaintiffs are the epitome of parties entitled to an award of fees. Defendants did not dispute that the hourly rates claimed by plaintiffs' attorneys were reasonable, that the hours were properly documented, that compensation was not sought for duplicative work, or that claims for time spent inefficiently were discounted. An independent review of the facts confirms the validity of plaintiffs' claims. Although plaintiffs were ultimately unsuccessful on the merits, the court refuses to reduce the award because of the excellent quality of counsel's services. Indeed, the court increases the amount of the award on this ground, and adds 15 percent as a penalty for the government's delay in handling the fees claimed. Finally, the court finds that some of the costs incurred by plaintiffs are not compensable and strikes claims for those amounts.

Counsel are listed at 11 ELR 20293.