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Student Pub. Interest Research Group of N.J. v. Anchor Thread Co.

Citation: 19 ELR 20671
No. Nos. 88-5504 et al., 869 F.2d 592/29 ERC 1039/(3d Cir., 01/24/1989) Fee award aff'd

The court holds that attorneys fees are appropriate in a Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) citizen suit, and that the district court did not err in failing to reduce the lodestar amount in light of meager results. The court first holds that an attorneys fee award was appropriate under FWPCA § 505(d), since plaintiffs obtained a summary judgment award on liability. The parties eventually settled, and defendant agreed to pay $ 25,000 in civil penalties to the federal treasury. The court holds that the district court did not err in failing to reduce the lodestar to reflect the small amount of the penalty. Plaintiffs were the prevailing parties, and the penalty served as a deterrent to future violations. Moreover, the lower court did disallow time spent by plaintiffs on other citizen suits. The court holds that expert witness fees were appropriate. Although the case did not go to trial, the settlement occurred on the eve of trial and plaintiffs had to prepare for the planned trial. The court holds that a delay-in-payment adjustment was appropriate. The court holds that the district court did not abuse its discretion in reducing the lodestar to eliminate common time spent on this case and 26 other FWPCA citizen suit cases, in disallowing time to which defendant made no specific objection, and in reducing by one-third the time devoted to preparation of the fee applications.

[The district court's decisions appear at 19 ELR 20665 and 20670. The decision on the merits is published at 15 ELR 20964.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Karen Edgecombe, Bruce J. Terris
Terris, Edgecombe, Hecker & Wayne
1121 12th St. NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 682-2100

Counsel for Defendants
Stephen W. Miller, Douglas J. Smillie
Clark, Ladner, Fortenbaugh & Young
1818 Market St., 32nd Fl., Philadelphia PA 19103
(215) 241-1800