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RMEF Calls Out Center for Biological Diversity

LopeHunter

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Until the law changes about reimbursing legal fees for unsuccessful challenges, these NGOs and law firms have a gravy train going. NGOs mislead well-intentioned donors. Law firms keep billing out what would be idle hours around the law firm if not for the lawsuits. Let's see. NGO "wins" and law firm "wins" reimbursements though usually lose the cases, wildlife actually loses as wolves devastate elk, moose and deer, states lose as divert funds from biology to lawyers and federal taxpayers lose as money handed to law firms with no benefit to wildlife resulting.

Quite a shell game. Change the law.
 

ingomar

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Hats off to RMEF for standing up on this very important issue. These groups that are spinning or ignoring the facts and science need to be hammered every time they misspeak.

Thanks again to RMEF!
 

Ben Lamb

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Until the law changes about reimbursing legal fees for unsuccessful challenges, these NGOs and law firms have a gravy train going. NGOs mislead well-intentioned donors. Law firms keep billing out what would be idle hours around the law firm if not for the lawsuits. Let's see. NGO "wins" and law firm "wins" reimbursements though usually lose the cases, wildlife actually loses as wolves devastate elk, moose and deer, states lose as divert funds from biology to lawyers and federal taxpayers lose as money handed to law firms with no benefit to wildlife resulting.

Quite a shell game. Change the law.

How would you change it?
 

PatrickK

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How would you change it?

Loser pays.

A lot of the "wild earth guardians" and other wacko environmental justice groups would go out of business if they had to actually pay for their law suits.

Patrick
 

Ben Lamb

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Loser pays.

A lot of the "wild earth guardians" and other wacko environmental justice groups would go out of business if they had to actually pay for their law suits.

Patrick

The current system is that the only time a plaintiff gets to collect legal fees is if they win their case. I'm not necessarily opposed to having the loser psy for the fed. cost if the lawsuit can be deemed to be frivolous.

Here's a decent NYT article based on a GAO report on EAJA: http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/0...arks-battle-over-attorneys-fees-in-35436.html

It should help provide some context to further the discussion.

For the record, I don't think that EAJA is the problem, I think our current forest planning policy is the problem. EAJA was originally set up to allow citizens to sue their government when the gov ignores or breaks the law. As an American, I think it's important thst citizens are able to hold their government accountable.

I'm not opposed to making groups with a certain budget or cash reserves bond, but a lot of the groups who sue the forest service have no cash reserves and limited budgets. How do we hold them accountable for frivolous lawsuits?
 

1_pointer

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The current system is that the only time a plaintiff gets to collect legal fees is if they win their case. I'm not necessarily opposed to having the loser psy for the fed. cost if the lawsuit can be deemed to be frivolous.

Here's a decent NYT article based on a GAO report on EAJA: http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/0...arks-battle-over-attorneys-fees-in-35436.html

It should help provide some context to further the discussion.

For the record, I don't think that EAJA is the problem, I think our current forest planning policy is the problem. EAJA was originally set up to allow citizens to sue their government when the gov ignores or breaks the law. As an American, I think it's important thst citizens are able to hold their government accountable.

I'm not opposed to making groups with a certain budget or cash reserves bond, but a lot of the groups who sue the forest service have no cash reserves and limited budgets. How do we hold them accountable for frivolous lawsuits?
Good luck getting the politicos to define frivolous to a degree that would actually matter.

IMO, part of the problem with the current EAJA process is the definition of a "win". Reaching a settlement agreement prior to a hearing can result in an EAJA payment. How is that a "win"? Similarly, prevailing on one of many points of contention can be equated to a "win" and result in an EAJA payment.

I could get behind the rule change of appellants having to post a bond. However, I do believe that some sort of cost recovery in the event of a ruling against the appellant has to be a part of the solution for it to actually have an impact.
 

Ben Lamb

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Good luck getting the politicos to define frivolous to a degree that would actually matter.

IMO, part of the problem with the current EAJA process is the definition of a "win". Reaching a settlement agreement prior to a hearing can result in an EAJA payment. How is that a "win"? Similarly, prevailing on one of many points of contention can be equated to a "win" and result in an EAJA payment.

I could get behind the rule change of appellants having to post a bond. However, I do believe that some sort of cost recovery in the event of a ruling against the appellant has to be a part of the solution for it to actually have an impact.

So where do you draw the line? Most of the proposed legislation I've seen would only affect groups like CBD or Industry,who can afford the loss and the payment. Other groups like Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems have budgets under $150,000 a year.

I think you have to walk a pretty fine line between ensuring lawsuits have merit and reducing your right to sue your government.

I continue to think that the problem isn't necessarily EAJA. Most of the forest suits have little to do with the project and more to do with procedure. Maybe we should be looking at planning policy and law versus eliminating our right to sue the Government.

Redefining a win could be a fruitful way to go as well. But how do you make the rhetoric match the lawsuit?
 

Big Fin

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Good luck getting the politicos to define frivolous to a degree that would actually matter.

IMO, part of the problem with the current EAJA process is the definition of a "win". Reaching a settlement agreement prior to a hearing can result in an EAJA payment. How is that a "win"? Similarly, prevailing on one of many points of contention can be equated to a "win" and result in an EAJA payment.

I could get behind the rule change of appellants having to post a bond. However, I do believe that some sort of cost recovery in the event of a ruling against the appellant has to be a part of the solution for it to actually have an impact.

Those will all be a good start on the situation.

Example of the most recent Wyoming wolf plan case. The appellant lost on the three issues of science that mattered to the longevity of the wolves. They prevailed on some easily correctable technicality that the protections were not in statute, rather administrative rule. It was corrected within a week. Yet, the appellant is considered to have "won," when for everything that matters for wolf conservation and the science at hand, they got their teeth removed.

It is that kind of result that people feel are abuses needing to be corrected. Lots of interest by some in Congress to change some of this, but given how inept they are at managing among their own parties, to think they could come together as a combined group and do anything positive is probably a pipe dream.
 

Ben Lamb

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Those will all be a good start on the situation.

Lots of interest by some in Congress to change some of this, but given how inept they are at managing among their own parties, to think they could come together as a combined group and do anything positive is probably a pipe dream.

So let's write the bill for them. :)
 

Ben Lamb

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Would revoking tax exemptions do any good?

I do't know that that would be good. Remember, EAJA is used by a wide array of people,industries and non-profits. Do we want to strip a church of their exempt status if they sue the fed over a 1st amendment issue and lose?
 

cantgetdrawn

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I think Randy has a reasonable suggestion.

Impose guidelines for judges as to what constitutes a win for NGOs (not individuals). If you spent resources making 10 legal arguments but only won one, then the NGO should be able to collect only the fraction of the legal cost they spent on that one argument.

I would suggest going a step further and limit the number of lawsuits filed and/or the amount individual NGOs can collect in a given year and still be reimbursed. They could still sue as much as they want, they just would not be reimbursed for all of them. This might break them up into smaller NGOs and hopefully rein in this industry of collecting donations to sue the government at taxpayer expense. It might also make them pick and chose which laws they sue over.
 

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