US state environmental agency ordered to pay lawyers more than US$300,000 over waste plan

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has been ordered to pay US$338,618 to two lawyers who sued the agency over its failure to adopt a statewide solid waste management plan.

Tuscaloosa News reports that Doyle Fuller and Susan Copeland, both of Montgomery, sued ADEM in 2000 on behalf of the city of Lowndesboro and several of its citizens. The suit said ADEM had a legislative mandate to adopt the solid waste plan. It also accused ADEM of ignoring flaws in a permit application submitted by a company seeking to build a landfill in Lowndes County.

ADEM adopted a statewide plan for awarding permits required before new landfills can be built as a result of the lawsuit, Circuit Judge Sally Greenhaw stated in a ruling Wednesday that ordered the agency to pay the lawyers.

The attorneys “rendered a public service which resulted in a benefit to all of the citizens of this state,” the judge wrote. In opposing the fees, ADEM attorney Olivia Jenkins argued that the public benefits claimed by the plaintiffs were merely cosmetic. “Requiring an already cash-strapped agency to pay the exorbitant amount of attorney fees requested would clearly not be in the public benefit but would result in a grave injustice to the citizens of Alabama who expect ADEM to carry out its regulatory responsibilities,” Jenkins wrote in a letter to Greenhaw included in the court file.

ADEM’s lawyers were reviewing the ruling Thursday, and had yet to decide if there would be an appeal, said agency spokesman Scott Hughes.

Ano da Publicação: 2002
Fonte: Warmer Bulletin Enews #45-2002
Autor: Kit Strange, Warmer Bulletin
Email do Autor:

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