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Citizens Coordinating Comm. on Friendship Heights v. Washington Metro. Area Transit Auth.

Citation: 14 ELR 20346
No. No. 82-730, (D.D.C., 02/23/1984) Property owners granted fees

The court awards owners of a shopping center attorneys fees pursuant to the citizen suit provisions of §505 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA). The property owners had joined suit with a citizens group and individuals challenging the unpermitted discharge of diesel fuel oil and construction wastes into a stream in violation of FWPCA §402. Plaintiffs also asserted common law claims in negligence, nuisance, and trespass for specific damage to their property. Initially, the court addresses defendant's jurisdictional challenge, ruling that oil is a pollutant and underground storage tanks from which the oil leaked are point sources, making defendant's discharge subject to FWPCA permit and effluent limitation requirements. Next, the court holds that the property owners have asserted sufficient injury in fact on their FWPCA claims to have standing. An assertion of aesthetic injury satisfies the standing requirement. The court then determines that §505(d) authorizes an award to plaintiffs because of claimants' participation in the settlement negotiations and consent decree, and their success on the merits. The court holds that an attorney fees award based on an hourly rate of $75 per hour for work prior to March 1, 1982, and $85 per hour for work performed after March 1, 1982, reflects the rate prevailing in the community for similar work. The court also awards expert witness costs to plaintiffs.

[A related decision is published at 14 ELR 20333 — Ed.]

Counsel are listed at 14 ELR 20333.