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No Damaging or Unsightly Mun. Pollution v. King County

ELR Citation: 16 ELR 21019
Nos. No. C82-186V, (W.D. Wash., 07/28/1986) Attorney fees awarded

The court holds that an award of attorney fees and litigation costs to the citizens' group that prevailed on its underlying claims is appropriate under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act §7002(e). The court first holds that the prevailing party's attorney's time records are insufficiently detailed and too cryptic to determine the number of hours reasonably expended in the litigation. The court next holds that, on its own review of the casefile, that 372.4 hours to prepare an overly long complaint is excessive, and that an inordinate amount of time was wasted pursuing two summary judgment motions for which there was little, if any, likelihood of success. The court holds that, in the absence of sufficient documentary evidence presented to it, an award of fees and costs is determined by the following factors: the court's observation of the time devoted to trial; information revealed by the clerk's file; time devoted pursuing pretrial motions; the relative success of the plaintiff's action; and "any other factors" bearing upon reasonableness. These are to be considered in light of the action's novelty and difficulty, the requisite skill of counsel, the preclusion of other employment, and the experience and ability of counsel. The court further holds that there should be no upward adjustment of the fee since the action was neither rare or exceptional, nor was the risk of loss great. Based on its analysis of these factors, the court awards plaintiff $175,000 in attorney fees. The court also holds that the services and fees of expert witnesses are reasonable, and awards these costs, plus miscellaneous costs.

[The opinion on the merits appears at 16 ELR 21016. An opinion on a supplemental award of fees and costs appears at 16 ELR 21021.]

Counsel are listed at 16 ELR 21016.