On April 13, 2015, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District granted a request by respondent County of San Bernardino (County) and real party Al-Nur Islamic Center to publish its recent decision in Save Our Uniquely Rural Community Environment v. County of San Bernardino, 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 307 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. Mar. 18, 2015). In the decision, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s 80% reduction of requested attorney fees following a challenge under the California Environmental Quality Act to a proposed Islamic community center and mosque (project).
The key issue on appeal involved petitioner’s degree of success at trial and whether the final judgment merited recovery of full attorney fees. Petitioner initially sought to vacate a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) and all related project approvals and enjoin further work on the project until the County prepared an Environmental Impact Report. However, the relief granted by the trial court was limited to setting aside the MND for the sole purpose of analyzing the project’s impact on wastewater treatment. After analyzing the relief petitioner sought compared to the relief petitioner obtained, the court held petitioner failed to satisfy its burden of proving the trial court abused its discretion.
The court also upheld the trial court’s reduction in the number of hours and hourly rate charged by petitioner’s attorney.
A complete summary of the case is available here: https://thomaslaw455.wpengine.com/court-substantially-reduces-attorney-fees-following-limited-success-on-ceqa-challenge-to-islamic-center-in-san-bernardino-county/.