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Welcome to Abbott & Kindermann, Inc.’s May Environmental Action News. This summary provides brief updates on recent environmental cases, legislation, and administrative actions beginning in January 2020.


To read the April 2020 Environmental Action News post, click here: .


There is one

Delta Stewardship Council Cases (Cal.Ct.App., April 10, 2020, cases nos. C082944, C086199) 2020 Cal.App.Unpub.LEXIS 2279.

In an unpublished decision, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s ruling that reduced the amount in attorney’s fees a plaintiff could collect under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 after prevailing on only

By: Brian Russell

Save Our Uniquely Rural Community Environment v. County of San Bernardino (March 18, 2015, E059524) ___Cal.App.4th ___.

Plaintiff and appellant Save Our Uniquely Rural Community Environment (SOURCE) appealed an award of attorney fees in a case arising under CEQA. It contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it awarded $19,176, despite SOURCE’s request for $231,098.

Continue Reading California Courts Are Provided Broad Discretion When Awarding “Reasonable” Legal Fees Under CEQA

By Glen Hansen

In Garcia v. Governing Board of Bellflower Unified School District (October 24, 2013, B247320) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ a former employee of the Bellflower Unified School District (“District”) filed an extraordinary writ petition against the District relating to her alleged exposure to mold. Her counsel later served on the District’s counsel in that proceeding a request for records from the District pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Gov. Code, § 6250 et seq.) (“PRA”). The letter listed eight (8) categories of records that were requested pursuant to the PRA. During the next month, the former employee’s counsel sent several additional letters and an email to the District’s counsel because the District did not respond to the original letter request. The District’s general counsel finally responded with a letter stating that there were no documents responsive to four of the requests, that two of the requests were overly broad and vague, and that documents responsive to two of the requests were exempt from disclosure. The former employee’s counsel then sent a ‘meet and confer’ letter to the District’s general counsel disputing the District’s objections and responses. But when the District did not respond to that letter, the former employee commenced mandamus proceeding seeking to compel the District to comply with the PRA. 

Continue Reading A Petitioner Is Entitled To Attorneys’ Fees Under The Public Records Act If The Petitioner Succeeds On Any Significant Issue And Achieves Some Of The Benefit Sought In The Litigation

Public agencies looking to appeal the merits of an adverse judgment and writ of mandate have to be careful about not taking actions which render the lawsuit moot. Awards of attorney’s fees under the private attorney general doctrine are not likely to be reversed on appeal.
Continue Reading Compliance with Trial Court Writ Renders Moot an Appeal on the Merits

In a CCP section 1021.5 fee award, the trial court has the discretion to award fees for the time spent in administrative proceedings.
Continue Reading Code of Civil Procedure §1021.5 Authorizes a Prevailing Party to Recover Its Attorney Fees for Administrative Time As Well As in Litigation

By Cori M. Badgley

The court in Chawanakee Unified School District v. County of Madera (2011, No. F059382) ____ Cal.App.4th ____ faced the difficult task of interpreting an amendment to the School Facilities Act and how it interacts with CEQA as an issue of first impression. The specific provision at issue restricts the “methods of considering and mitigating impacts on school facilities” to the fees provided in the School Facilities Act. (Gov. Code, § 65996(a).) The court held that although this provision obviated the need to discuss direct impacts on school facilities in the CEQA document, the provision did not apply to indirect impacts, such as traffic or construction.

Continue Reading The Devil is in the Details… At Least When it Comes to Interpreting the School Facilities Act

By Cori Badgley and Emilio Camacho

In Monterey/Santa Cruz County Bldg. & Constr. Trades Council v. Cypress Marina Heights LP (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 1500, the California Court of Appeal, Sixth District, held that deeds acquiring property from a redevelopment agency required the purchaser/developer to pay prevailing wages to the construction workers. In addition, the appellate court also held that plaintiffs were entitled to $73,167.50 in attorney’s fees pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5.

Continue Reading Bad Deeds Make Bad Law

By Cori Badgley

The long legal battle over Pacific Lumber Company’s logging of timberland in Humboldt County continues as the parties now fight over attorney’s fees. In Environmental Protection Information Center v. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (2008) 44 Cal.4th 459, the Supreme Court finally resolved all of the substantive issues on the merits. In summary, the Supreme Court set aside the department’s approval of a sustained yield plan based on two of petitioner’s arguments, invalidated a portion of the incidental take permit, and upheld the department’s streambed alteration agreement and certification of the environmental impact report/environmental impact statement. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the matter was remanded back to the appellate court, and the appellate court heard arguments on whether petitioner was entitled to attorney’s fees and in what amount. (Environmental Protection Information Center v. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 217.)

Continue Reading Money, Money, Money: Pacific Lumber Co. Litigation Ends in Battle over Attorney’s Fees