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Friends of the Earth v. Potomac Elec. Power Co.

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20082
Nos. No. 75-0747, 546 F. Supp. 1357/17 ERC 2163/(D.D.C., 09/17/1982) Attorney fees denied

The court rejects the District of Columbia's request for attorney fees under §304 of the Clean Air Act in a citizen suit in which the District, originally a defendant, successfully moved for realignment as a plaintiff. The court notes that an award of attorney fees under §304 is "appropriate" within the meaning of that section if the suit is the type that Congress intended to encourage and if the involvement of the party seeking fees substantially contributed to the goals of the Act. It rules that an award of fees in this case would not further the policy of the Clean Air Act. Such an award would reward the District for its failure to carry out its enforcement responsibilities until the citizens group forced it to act. As a general matter, the Act does not place a sufficiently high priority on government participation in citizen suits to warrant the incentive of fees. Finally, the District's contribution in the instant case was not so substantial as to warrant a departure from the general rule.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Judith W. Rogers, Corp. Counsel; Richard G. Wise
1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20004
(202) 727-6250

Counsel for Defendant
George V. Allen Jr.
Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge
1800 M St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 822-1000