Monday, April 25, 2011

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy v. Duke Energy

Apr 14: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, Case Nos. 08-2370, 09-1928, & 09-2113. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, at Asheville.
In this Clean Air Act case, Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (Duke Energy) challenges an attorneys' fees award by attacking the nature of the victory supporting the award, as well as the merits order on which the fee award was based -- summary judgment in favor of environmental group Plaintiffs Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, National Parks Conversation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club (Plaintiffs).
    With its summary judgment victory, Plaintiffs forced Duke Energy to submit to administrative evaluations by the North Carolina
state regulators who administer the Clean Air Act. Those administrative proceedings constituted some success and thus supported an award of attorneys' fees under the Clean Air Act. The Appeals Court said, ". . .nothing this Court might hold with regard to the merits of the summary judgment determination could undo those proceedings or nullify Plaintiffs' success. We therefore affirm the district court's fee award."
    The Appeals Court said further, "Because Duke Energy's merits arguments are irrelevant to our determination that Plaintiffs achieved some success supporting the fee award -- the reversal of which is Duke Energy's sole goal on appeal -- we need not reach them. We hold that Plaintiffs' successes properly supported the award of attorneys' fees and costs and affirm the district
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [*Air]

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