Both Sides Appealed, But Lower Court Award Affirmed.
Above: Col. Roosevelt, Tarlton, and the big lion. Photographer: Kermit Roosevelt. c1919. Library of Congress.
Exotic Feline Breeding Compound v. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Case No. F070449 (5th Dist. June 22, 2016) (unpublished) involved the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s appeal of a $134,417 fee award under CCP § 1021.5 to a winning nonprofit devoted to preserving exotic animals on a wide scale basis. However, nonprofit cross-appealed claiming the fee award was not enough. Both sides went home disappointed on appeal.
Plaintiff nonprofit did meet the § 1021.5 criteria, especially given that the Fish and Game Code has a legislative mandate to shelter restricted live animals, such that the public interest factors were met. Plaintiff was successful in obtaining mandate to overturn a breeding zoo waiver denial relating to a permit for exotic animals. No one else was vindicating these interests. As far as financial burden, the cost of a permit was $3,000 versus the many, many hundreds of thousands to prosecute this matter as far as litigation expenses. Finally, plaintiff’s cross-appeal did not get every far given that the lower court was reasonable in determining that the awarded amount was reasonable on appeal, after taking into account many factors.