PLNR-11-1-Government Litigation Savings Act

WHEREAS the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) was passed in 1980 and was intended to provide fair access to legal remedies for individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations to defend themselves from burdensome federal government regulations; and

WHEREAS the act was intended to provide “equal access” through the reimbursement of attorney fees for plaintiffs who successfully sue the federal government or if they settle out of court; and

WHEREAS well-funded local and national interest groups have utilized this legislation to receive millions of federal taxpayer dollars in attorney fees upon settling or winning cases filed against federal agencies for law suits based on procedural errors, or suits designed simply to delay or prevent authorized uses of public lands or federally authorized activities on private lands; ultimately using the funds received through these tactics to initiate subsequent legal actions by these same groups; and

WHEREAS the EAJA only requires public reporting of payments made to plaintiffs who are the prevailing party when engaged as a party to litigation against the government, but does retain a database of all monies paid to prevailing litigants by agency, nor is an annual report created outlining the financial impact of the EAJA resulting in a complete lack of accountability and transparency in the administration and distribution of public resources; and

WHEREAS lack of oversight of the expenditure of these funds has led to significant wide spread abuse whereby large law firms use this provision to sue the federal government with its own money resulting in less resource availability for on-the-ground natural resource improvements; and

WHEREAS federal agencies may have settled these cases rather than expend public resources to litigate;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that CLUB 20 supports efforts to provide appropriate legal remedies for individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations who have limited means to raise legitimate challenges in response to inappropriate government actions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 supports the requirement of litigants to demonstrate a direct tie/impact to the community/region in question and demonstrate exactly how they will be negatively impacted in that area if the government regulation is to be implemented. CLUB 20 further supports the requirement that any litigant must be established as a 3rd party and must have a direct and personal interest in the adversary adjudication because of medical costs, property damage, denial of benefits, unpaid disbursement, fees, and other expenses incurred in defense of the adjudication; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 further supports a requirement of the agency conducting the adversary adjudication to make any party against whom the adjudication is brought, at the time the adjudication is commenced, aware of the litigation and complaints contained there within; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 supports federal legislation that requires the same revenue caps for non-profit organizations as is currently stated for businesses and supports setting legal fees at a fair market rate for reimbursement that is subject to review on an annual basis. CLUB 20 supports the requirement that the net worth of a party (other than an individual or unit of local government) shall include the net worth of any parent entity or subsidiary of that party; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 further supports requiring and audit of expenditures for the last 15 years and the requirement of an annual report to Congress, created by the Chairman of the Administrative Conference, describing the number, nature, and amount of the awards, the claims involved in the controversy, and any other relevant information that may aid Congress in evaluating the scope and impact of such awards. Each federal agency who has granted awards shall provide the Chairman in a timely manner, all information necessary for the Chairman to comply with compiling this annual report; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 further supports the requirement that the Chairman of the Administrative Conference create and maintain a publicly accessible online searchable database containing the aforementioned information with respect to each award of fees and other expenses; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 supports any legislation or rules amending the Equal Access to Justice Act to reduce abuse and misuse by special interest organizations, making the EAJA compliant with the original intention of providing a resource for businesses, individuals, and non-profit organizations to file legitimate complaints against the federal government. CLUB 20 supports any efforts to prevent and make illegal the improper use of the EAJA by special interest groups’ intent on delaying and preventing authorized uses of public lands or federally authorized activities on private lands.

 

Adopted 9/9/2011

Amended 4/1/2016