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Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch v. California Dep't of Forestry & Fire Protection

Citation: 40 ELR 20209
No. No. F058062, (Cal. App. 5th Dist., 08/10/2010)

A California appellate court held that environmental groups were not entitled to attorneys fees in an underlying suit challenging the state forestry departments' approval of three timber harvest plans for logging in Tuolumne County. The groups argued that the department had not followed the law in approving the plans, but the California Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the plans. Despite this defeat, the groups argued that they are the "successful party" entitled to attorney fees of $250,819 under the private attorney general doctrine contained in Cal. Code of Civil Procedure §1021.5. But the groups did not receive a favorable judgment nor did they achieve their strategic objectives of overturning the plans' approval and halting timber operations until additional environmental assessments were performed. Accordingly, the groups failed to meet their burden to show they were successful within the meaning of §1021.5.