Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Forest Conservation Council v. Devlin

Citation: 23 ELR 20995
No. No. 91-35680, 994 F.2d 709/37 ERC 1100/(9th Cir., 06/04/1993)

The court holds that the district court properly ruled that a public interest group is not a prevailing party under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), because the group conceded that its prelitigation efforts, rather than the filing of its lawsuit, caused the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw a challenged timber sale. The fact that the Service knew of the suit before canceling the timber sale does not render the district court's finding erroneous, because the record contained evidence on which the district court's decision could be rationally based. The court holds that whether there was a clear causal connection between the group's litigation and the practical outcome realized is a factual question for the district court to decide. More than mere knowledge that a lawsuit may occur is needed to award attorneys fees under the EAJA, and the lawsuit must have been a material factor or catalyst in bringing about the desired result. The court holds that there is no evidence of congressional intent to broadly construe the EAJA in order to compensate public interest groups for their lobbying efforts. The court also holds that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding proposed testimony, because exclusion of expert testimony is within the discretion of the trial court.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
Ralph Wilborn
Wilborn & Wilborn
1580 Valley River Dr., Ste. 170, Eugene OR 97401
(503) 485-4265

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Katherine W. Hazard
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

O'Scannlain, J. (before Rymer and Zilly,* JJ.)