Reason Was That Plaintiff Was Not Successful Party As A Matter Of Law Under Catalyst Theory.
Plaintiff in Washoe Meadows Community v. Cal. Dept. of Recreation, Case No. A139197 (1st Dist., Div. 5 Dec. 30, 2014) (unpublished) obtained an attorney’s fees award of $119,313.50 in a CEQA mandate proceeding involving a challenge to relocation of a golf course based upon erosion from the Upper Truckee River. Plaintiff’s goal was to stop or suspend the relocation project, but this did not happen after some on-going correction of EIR deficiencies. The lower court agreed with plaintiff that it was a catalyst entitled to 1021.5 fees.
The appellate court disagreed as a matter of law, reversing the fee award. (By the way, as bloggers, we will indicate 1021.5 fee awards do get very strict scrutiny on appeal in our general experience.)
The First District, Division 5 determined that plaintiff was not a “successful party” for 1021.5 purposes. In its opinion, the plaintiff did not obtain primary relief as far as stopping or disrupting location of the golf course. Rather, causation was missing because the minor EIR deficiencies were corrected in the course of an on-going process—a “limited do-over” (nice catch phrase, no?) found insufficient to allow recovery under the catalyst theory.