Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Association of Cal. Water Agencies v. Evans

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20101
Nos. No. 03-15380, (9th Cir., 09/24/2004)

The Ninth Circuit held that water agencies were entitled to fees and costs under the ESA even though their underlying suit was dismissed as moot. In the suit below, the agencies argued that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) violated the ESA when it designated certain lands in California and in the Pacific Northwest as critical habitats without conducting an adequate economic impact analysis. The case was dismissed as moot after the NMFS settled a separate but related case in another district, resulting in a remand of the designations of the very same critical habitats at issue in the agencies' case. The lower court correctly held that that because the agencies' action was a catalyst in the NMFS' decision to voluntarily remand the designations in the other case, they are entitled to fees and costs under the ESA's fee-shifting provision. The lower court correctly found that the ESA's fee-shifting provision applied in this case because the agencies brought the action to enforce the ESA. In addition, the district court correctly applied the catalyst theory and did not abuse its discretion in the amount of fees and costs it awarded.