A federal court recently awarded $63,409 in attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act to an environmental group which successfully challenged a decision by the Bureau of Land Management to allow off-road vehicle use in a Wilderness Study Area. In order to qualify for attorneys’ fees under the EAJA, an entity has to have prevailed in the lawsuit, have gross receipts under $7 million and demonstrate the government’s position was not substantially justified. The court found that BLM’s position in the lawsuit was not substantially justified because it had no reasonable basis in law or fact for its position. As the court noted, the prohibition on the off-road vehicle use was clear and unambiguous. The court did express concern over the fact that the plaintiff’s lawyers spent almost as much time on the fee application as on the case itself. However, the court only reduced the overall award by 10% notwithstanding this concern.
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