United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Honorable Edward J. Lodge United States District Judge.
the Court in the above entitled matter is Plaintiff,
Mickelsen Farms, LLC's, Motion for Award of Attorney Fees
and Other Expenses Under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
(Dkt. 104.) The Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for
the Court's consideration. Having reviewed the record
herein, the Court finds the facts and legal arguments are
adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly,
in the interest of avoiding delay, and because the Court
conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument, the Motion is decided
on the record.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
are a number of entities and individuals who farm potatoes in
southeastern Idaho. In April of 2006, Pale Cyst Nematode
(PCN), Globodera Pallida,  was detected in the soil of
a number of fields that raised potato crops in eastern Idaho.
As a result, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services
(APHIS) published an Interim Rule and later
adopted a Final Rule which provided regulations for the
designation and quarantining of fields in Idaho as well as
Deregulation Protocols. The Idaho State Department of
Agriculture (ISDA) adopted rules and procedures that parallel
APH IS's and assisted APHIS in implementing its Interim
and Final Rules.
Plaintiffs filed this action against the federal and state
Defendants challenging the issuance and implementation of the
Interim Rule and Final Rule. (Dkt. 1.) Specifically,
Plaintiffs claimed the federal Defendants violated the
Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§
553, 701-706; the Plant Protection Act (PPA), 7 U.S.C.
§§ 7701 and 7786; the Federal Advisory Committee
Act (FACA), 5 U.S.C. App. II, §§ 1-16; the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. §§
4321-70; and the Tenth Amendment of the United States
Constitution. As to the state Defendants, the Plaintiffs
claimed the ISDA failed to comply with its legal obligations
under the Idaho Plant Pest Act (Idaho PPA), Idaho Code
§§ 22-2001 to 22-2023; the Idaho Administrative
Procedures Act (Idaho APA), Idaho Code §§ 67-5101
to 67-5292; and Idaho's Rules Governing the PCN (Idaho
PCN Rules), IDAPA 02.06.10. In general, Plaintiffs claimed
the state and federal Defendants' actions were arbitrary,
capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in
accordance with law. Plaintiffs requested vacatur of the
Final Rule and Deregulation Protocols as well as declaratory
and injunctive relief ending the quarantine and regulation of
Plaintiffs' potato fields and prohibiting the agency from
relying on the working group's recommendations in future
agency decisions. (Dkt. 1 and Dkt. 85 at 5, n. 7.)
Court granted the state Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
(Dkt. 35.) The parties stipulated to voluntary dismissal of
the claims brought by certain of the plaintiffs. (Dkt. 47.)
Thereafter, the remaining Plaintiffs and federal Defendants
filed cross Motions for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 75, 84.) The
Court granted in part and denied in part each of the
parties' Motions. (Dkt. 95.) Specifically, the Court
found Plaintiffs waived two of their APA claims at summary
judgment, granted Plaintiffs summary judgment on the FACA
claim and the remaining APA claim, and granted summary
judgment to the federal Defendants on the NEPA and Tenth
Amendment claims. (Dkt. 95.) The Court remanded the matter to
the agency with instructions directing the agency to make
available, at Plaintiffs' request, all past
recommendations and/or information produced by the working
group; prohibited defendants from relying on any past
recommendations or findings of the working group; and
directed the agency to comply with FACA's procedural
requirements in the future. (Dkt. 95.)
filed a Motion for Reconsideration requesting review of a
portion of the Court's Order on summary judgment asking
to limit or clarify the relief granted to Plaintiffs. (Dkt.
96.) The Court granted the Motion and clarified that the
relief afforded to Plaintiffs in its summary judgment ruling
is limited to prospective relief on the FACA claim, stating
that Plaintiffs “may only challenge future agency
decisions, actions, rules, or protocols” but they
“cannot retrospectively challenge any agency actions or
decisions predating the Court's Order on summary
judgments….” (Dkt. 99.) The Court went on to
state that “Defendants are prohibited from relying on
any past recommendations and/or findings of the TWG in any
future agency decisions or actions” and directed
Defendants to make past TWG materials available to the
Plaintiffs. (Dkt. 99.)
was entered on November 28, 2018. (Dkt. 103.) On February 25,
2019, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion for Attorney Fees
and Expenses which the Court now takes up. (Dkt. 104.)
Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) provides that a court
“shall award” attorneys' fees to a
“prevailing party other than the United States ...
unless the court finds that the position of the United States
was substantially justified or that special circumstances
make an award unjust.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A).
Fees and other expenses include “reasonable attorney
fees.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A). If the
government's position is not substantially justified, it
is within the Court's discretion under the EAJA to
determine what fees are reasonable. Commissioner, I.N.S.
v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 160-61 (1990).
entitled to an award of fees, therefore, the EAJA requires
that: 1) the claimant be a prevailing party; 2) the claimant
be eligible for an award; 3) the Government's position
was not substantially justified; 4) no special circumstances
make an award unjust; and 5) the fee application must be
timely submitted and be supported by an itemized statement.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2412; Ibrahim v. United
States Dept. of Homeland Security, 912 F.3d 1147, 1167
(9th Cir. 2019) (quoting Jean, 496 U.S. at 158).
Motion for Attorney Fees in this case is timely and complete.
28 U.S.C. §§ 2412(d)(1)(B); (2)(G); (Dkt. 104.) The
parties dispute the remaining requirements for ...