Category: Attorney’s Fees

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Trial Court Failed to Take Catalytic Effect of CEQA Lawsuit into Account When Denying Petitioners Attorney’s Fees Following Voluntary Dismissal

In Department of Water Resources Environmental Impact Cases (2022) 79 Cal.App.5th 556, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying motions for attorney’s fees arising out of the voluntary dismissal of coordinated petitions following project changes and decertification of the challenged EIR under pressure from Governor Newsom. … Continue Reading

In Unpublished Opinion, Court Finds Los Angeles Development Project Description Accurate and Stable Despite a New Alternative Being Added to the FEIR and Approval of a Variation of that New Alternative

In the unpublished opinion, Southwest Reg’l Council of Carpenters v. City of L.A. (Mar. 7, 2022, B301374) [nonpub. opn.], the Second District Court of Appeal agreed with the City of Los Angeles (City), represented by Thomas Law Group, that an EIR for a mixed-use commercial and residential development (Project) contained an adequate project description and … Continue Reading

In Consolidated Appeals, Third District Upholds Multiple Trial Court Decisions in Decades-Long Litigation Over CEQA Review of State Water Project Contracts

In Central Delta Water Agency v. Department of Water Resources (2021) 69 Cal.App.5th 170, the Third District Court of Appeal considered three consolidated appeals arising out of long-term water contracts that have been the subject of repeated rounds of environmental review and litigation lasting decades. In each of the consolidated cases, the Court of Appeal set … Continue Reading

Second District Court of Appeal Upholds $750,000 in Attorney Fees and Costs Following Partial CEQA Victory

In Bldg. A Better Redondo v. City of Redondo Beach (2021) 2021 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1038, the Second District Court of Appeal upheld an $80,000 costs and $683,000 attorney fee award, following a partially successful CEQA challenge. The Court rejected ten challenges to the award (bulleted below) including challenges to the $650/hour rate, fees … Continue Reading

Public Interest Standing Not Automatically Precluded by Commercial Interest, Private Attorney General Doctrine Fee Award Upheld

In Citizens for Amending Proposition L. v. City of Pomona, (2018) Cal.App.LEXIS 1014, the Second District Court of Appeal held an attorneys’ fees award, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, was appropriate where a residents’ group’s action to enforce a voter-approved proposition prohibiting additional billboards in the City of Pomona (City) had standing … Continue Reading

Private Attorney General Doctrine Attorney’s Fees Proper For Party Successful in Invalidating Specific Plan Variances

In La Mirada Neighborhood Association v. City of Los Angeles (2018) 22 Cal.App.5th 1149, the Second District Court of Appeal held that attorneys’ fees were properly awarded per California Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 (Section 1021.5) where the challengers were successful in conferring a significant benefit in the public interest—invalidating six of eight specific plan variances … Continue Reading

Private Attorney General Doctrine Attorney’s Fee Award Proper Where Financial Burden Disproportionate to Financial Stake

In Heron Bay Home Owner’s Association v. City of San Leandro (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 376, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court judgement awarding partial attorneys’ fees where the financial burden of enforcement made an award appropriate pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5. The Heron Bay Homeowners’ Association (Heron Bay) … Continue Reading

COURT OF APPEAL EXTENDS CEQA HOLDING ON RECORD PREPARATION LABOR COSTS TO OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD CASES

After successfully defending a challenge to a resolution granting nonconforming use status to a mining operation in Santa Clara County, Respondent’s attorney filed a motion to recover costs associated with the preparation of the administrative record. This included the labor costs for the attorneys and paralegals who had assisted with the preparation of the large … Continue Reading

APPELLATE COURT ALLOWS ATTORNEY’S FEES CLAIM TO PROCEED AGAINST CORPORATE ALTER EGO 4 YEARS AFTER ORIGINAL JUDGMENT

In Highland Springs Conference & Training Center v. City of Banning, 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 53, the Fourth Appellate District held that a motion to amend a judgement filed four years after the initial award was not automatically time-barred. In 2008, plaintiffs Highland Springs Conference and Training Center and Banning Bench Community of Interest Association … Continue Reading

The Sixth District Court of Appeal Upholds $750/hour Fee in Unpublished Decision

In Habitat and Watershed Caretakers v. City of Santa Cruz (H040762, Oct. 6, 2015), the petitioner successfully challenged the trial court’s application of a negative multiplier to its fees on the merits and a “downward adjustment” to its fees for the fee litigation. The Sixth District Court of Appeal held that the trial court abused … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Publishes Case Clarifying “Catalyst Theory” Attorney Fees

On July 6, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ordered publication of Coalition for a Sustainable Yucaipa v. City of Yucaipa (July 6, 2015, E057589) __Cal.App.4th__.   The court upheld the trial court’s ruling denying attorney’s fees to the Coalition for a Sustainable Yucaipa (Coalition) after the City of Yucaipa (City) rescinded project approvals for … Continue Reading

Court Upholds Substantial Reduction in Attorney Fee Award Based on Limited Success of the Prevailing Party

In North County Watch v. County of San Louis Obispo, 2015 Cal. Unpub. LEXIS 4275, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision to award only a small portion of the attorney fees sought by the petitioner on the basis of their limited success in the litigation.  The dispute resulting in the … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Denies Attorney’s Fees Motion in CEQA Litigation after Contract Dispute Resulted in Revocation of Project Approvals

In Coalition for a Sustainable Yucaipa v. City of Yucaipa (2015) Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 4016, the Coalition for a Sustainable Yucaipa (Coalition) challenged the City of Yucaipa’s (Yucaipa’s) approval of the Oak Hills Marketplace (Project). The Project was to be built on land owned by the Palmer General Corporation (Palmer) and developed by the Target Corporation … Continue Reading

Fourth District Court of Appeal Publishes Case Reducing Attorney Fees Following Limited Success on CEQA Challenge

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. … Continue Reading

Court Substantially Reduces Attorney Fees Following Limited Success on CEQA Challenge to Islamic Center in San Bernardino County

In an unpublished opinion in Save Our Uniquely Rural Community Environment (SOURCE) v. County of San Bernardino, 2015 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1976, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court decision and reduced petitioner’s attorney fees by 80 percent in a challenge under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to a proposed … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Denies Attorney Fees in CEQA Litigation Over Washoe Meadows State Park Land Transfer

In an unpublished decision in Washoe Meadows Community v. California Department of Parks & Recreation, 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 9256, the First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order granting petitioner’s attorney fees and held Washoe Meadows Community (Washoe) did not achieve its primary relief sought through the litigation. In November 2011, … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Upholds Attorney Fees Award in CEQA Litigation Challenging State Water Board Adoption of Instream Flow Policy

In an unpublished opinion in Living Rivers Council v. State Water Resources Control Board, 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7321, the California Court of Appeal for the First District affirmed an award of attorney fees to Petitioners Living Rivers Council as the prevailing party in a CEQA lawsuit challenging an instream flow policy adopted by … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Does Not Review City’s Nonpecuniary Interests to Determine If City Qualifies for Attorney Fees, But Rather Bases Award of Fees on Number of Issues Won

In City of Maywood v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2012) __ Cal.App.4th __ (Case No. B233739), the City of Maywood (City) filed a petition for writ of mandate to overturn the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) certification of a final environmental impact report (FEIR) prepared for a high school. The Second District Court … Continue Reading

Court Awards Attorneys’ Fees to Co-Counsel Who was Also a Named Party in CEQA Litigation

In Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions v. City of Healdsburg (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 988, certified for partial publication, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed an award of attorneys’ fees resulting from a successful CEQA challenge to a co-counsel attorney who was also a named party in the case. Petitioners, Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions … Continue Reading

Court Denies Attorney’s Fees Where Successful Petitioner Does Not Confer a Significant Benefit to Public and Discharges Writ of Mandate After Compliance

In an unpublished opinion, California Oak Foundation v. County of Tehama (2012) 2012 Cal. App. Unpub. Lexis 3970, the California Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a decision denying petitioner’s request for attorney’s fees on the basis that their successful challenge to a golf course community project, which Tehama County approved in 2006, did not … Continue Reading

Edna Valley Watch v. County of San Luis Obispo (2011) 197 Cal. App. 4th 1312

A nonprofit organization (Association) and neighbor challenged the County of San Luis Obispo’s (County) approval of a church project, arguing that it failed to comply with CEQA. The church abandoned the project and the County rescinded its approval. The Association and neighbor then filed a motion for attorneys’ fees. The Superior Court denied the neighbor’s … Continue Reading

Silverado Modjeska Recreation and Parks Dist. v. County of Orange (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 282

Upon receiving a writ of mandate from the trial court in 2003, Orange County (County) prepared a supplemental EIR (SEIR) for its Silverado Ranch Canyon Project (Project). Petitioner challenged the County’s approval of the project claiming that the SEIR did not comply with the writ issued in 2003, and that the discovery of new information … Continue Reading

City Appeal of Trial Court Order Found Moot where City had Complied with the Order

In Building a Better Redondo v. City of Redondo Beach (February 22, 2012) __ Cal.App.4th __ (Case No. 124769), a group of slow-growth advocates brought a petition for writ of mandate and declaratory relief against the City of Redondo Beach, seeking an order compelling the city to submit a local coastal program amendment to public … Continue Reading

Court Awards Agency’s Costs of Preparing Administrative Record Despite Petitioner Electing to Prepare the Record

In an unpublished decision, Landwatch San Luis Obispo v. Cambria Community Serv. Dist., 2d Civil No. B229545 (2012), the Court upheld a trial court’s cost award of $14,615.41 to the Cambria Community Service District for time spent preparing the administrative record.  The District initially sought almost $24,000.  In reaching the amount awarded, the trial court … Continue Reading
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