California Court of Appeal

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Karuk Tribe of N. Cal. v. Cal. Regional Water Control Bd., A124351

In an action seeking to compel the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, North Coast Region (Board) to enforce California's law governing waste discharge to several hydroelectric dam-reservoirs on the Klamath River, judgment for defendant is affirmed where the Board and the trial court correctly recognized that, for at least half a century, federal law has been supreme when it comes to the subject of regulating hydroelectric dams operating under a federal license. However, the trial court's award of attorney's fees to plaintiffs is reversed where three of the statutory prerequisites to an award under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 were absent: 1) the initiators of this litigation could not qualify as the "successful" parties in that in no sense did they achieve their strategic objective; 2) this was not an action that "resulted in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest"; and 3) this was not a case where "a significant benefit . . . has been conferred on the general public or a large class of persons."

Appellate Information

  • Decided 03/30/2010
  • Published 03/30/2010

Judges

Court

  • California Court of Appeal

Counsel

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