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Environmental Defense Fund v. Gorsuch

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20303
Nos. Nos. 81-2083, -2269, 18 ERC 1377/(D.D.C., 12/07/1982) Attorney fees awarded

The court grants attorney fees to the Environmental Defense Fund pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) in its lawsuit to compel the Environmental Protection Agency to promulgate the revised National Contingency Plan as mandated by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. The court rejects defendants' contention that plaintiff's application, filed five months after summary judgment, failed to meet the EAJA's deadline of filing within 30 days of final judgment. After determining that neither the EAJA nor its legislative history define the phrase "final judgment," that court rules that in injunctive proceedings it may mean the point at which the agency is in compliance and the case is finally dismissed. The court notes that in "deadline litigation," such as the instant action, enforcement of the judgment is an integral part of the overall action. Therefore, allowing plaintiff to await final disposition of the case before applying for fees serves judicial economy by avoiding multiple filings. In addition, this approach honors the intent of the EAJA because it enables prevailing parties to recover all the costs associated with a compliance action despite attempts by their opponents to delay resolution of the dispute.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Khristine Hall, David Lennett
Environmental Defense Fund, Inc.
1525 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-1484

Counsel for Defendants
David O. Ledbetter
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-3483

Lee C. Schroer
Office of the General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 382-4134