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Friends of the Earth v. Eastman Kodak Co.

Citation: 17 ELR 20828
No. No. CIV-84-0316T, 656 F. Supp. 513/25 ERC 2131/(W.D.N.Y., 03/23/1987)

The court holds that environmental groups are entitled to attorneys fees in a settled Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) citizen suit, but adjusts the lodestar downward since plaintiffs' proof is entirely based on reports filed by defendant pursuant to law and plaintiffs met with only minimal success. The court first holds that plaintiffs are entitled to fees under the standard established by the Supreme Court in Ruckelshaus v. Sierra Club, 13 ELR 20664. Although plaintiffs did not obtain injunctive relief or a judgment declaring defendant to be in violation of the FWPCA, the settlement did include an agreement by defendant to make a contribution of $49,000 to a major environmental research organization. Despite defendant's claim that this payment merely represented the nuisance value of the lawsuit, the court holds that negotiating the contribution represents "some success" on the merits within the meaning of Ruckelshaus. The court then holds that the lodestar should be adjusted downward to reflect the relative lack of importance of the results plaintiffs obtained. Virtually all of plaintiffs' proof came from defendant's own discharge monitoring reports, which were required to be filed by the FWPCA. Moreover, although the $49,000 contribution is evidence of "some success," it does not represent outstanding or significant success given the number of violations alleged and the amount originally sought in the complaint.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
James M. Hecker
Terris, Edgecombe, Hecker & Wayne
1121 12 St. NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 682-2100

Counsel for Defendant
Philip H. Gitlen
Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna
One Commerce Plaza, Albany NY 12260
(518) 449-7600