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Mejia v. Los Angeles, City of

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20273
Nos. No. B189444, (Cal. Ct. App., 10/17/2007)

A California appellate court denied an appeal of a post-judgment award of attorney fees to plaintiff as the successful party in a proceeding under the California Environmental Quality Act challenging a proposed housing development due to its environmental impacts on wildlife and traffic. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees under California Civil Code §1021 as a successful party in an action resulting in significant benefit to the general public, where the financial burden of private enforcement outweighs plaintiff's personal interest in the matter. The defendant developer and defendant city, as parties with direct interest in the litigation, are liable for attorney fees under the statute, and because the primary purpose of §1021 is to encourage enforcement of important public policies, and is incidental to the U.S. Constitution's right to petition, defendant developer's First Amendment claim is denied.