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Marple Township v. Lewis

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20359
Nos. Nos. 74-925, 81-4627, (E.D. Pa., 01/28/1983) Attorney fees awarded

The court finds that plaintiffs are entitled to attorney fees under §204(a) of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. §2412, for their successful National Environmental Policy Act and Federal-Aid Highway Act challenges to construction of Interstate 476, 13 ELR 20349. First, the court holds that Marple and Radnor Townships are eligible parties under the EAJA because they meet the criteria in §2142(d)(2)(B)(iii) as organizations with less than 500 employees, and the Act does not expressly exclude fee awards to governmental bodies. This conclusion is consistent with the language of the statute and its purpose and is not barred by the legislative history, which is ambiguous on this issue. Further, the court holds that plaintiff Swarthmore College qualifies as a party under §2412(d)(2)(B)(ii) because it is a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity, and plaintiff Ashwood Manor Civic Association qualifies as a party because it is an association with less than 500 employees. The court rejects defendants' assertion that fees should not be awarded because the United States' position was substantially justified. Plaintiffs prevailed on each count for which summary judgment was sought, while defendants sought to defend obvious inadequacies in the implementation of environmental laws. Finally, the court finds no special circumstances that would make an award of attorney fees unjust.

Counsel are listed at 13 ELR 20349.