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North Carolina v. Acme Petroleum & Fuel Co.

Citation: 32 ELR 20569
No. No. 01-1665, 30 F. Appx. 287/(4th Cir., 03/26/2002)

The court awards an individual's attorneys $95,153.02 in attorney fees and expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) for defending the individual in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) suit brought by the government. The government sued the individual under CERCLA §104(e) seeking access to his property to investigate possible hazards and to remove quantities of his property and other materials. The individual prevailed in the district and appellate courts, then petitioned the district court under the EAJA for an award of attorney fees for the proceedings in both courts. The court first holds that although one of the attorneys took the case on a pro bono basis, that does not preclude an award of attorney fees under the EAJA. The court then holds that it was reasonable for that attorney to bring on other attorneys to work with him on the case. Further, the time claimed for the district court proceedings that resulted in a ruling in the individual's favor, including time spent on an argument on which the individual did not prevail, is reasonable. However, the court holds that the individual failed to prove that all of the time spent in preparation of a notice of cross-appeal, a settlement conference, and the appellate oral argument was necessary and reasonable. Therefore, the time spent on those projects was reduced and the attorney fees were adjusted accordingly.

[Prior decisions in this litigation are published at 31 ELR 20572 and 32 ELR 20364.]

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (12 pp., ELR Order No. L-482).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Mark Ter Molen
Mayer, Brown & Platt
190 S. La Salle St., Chicago IL 60603
(312) 782-0600

Counsel for Defendant
Kurt N. Lindland, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
Everett M. Dirksen Bldg.
219 S. Dearborn St., 5th Fl., Chicago IL 60604
(312) 353-5300