STS Energy Partners LP v. FERC, No. 14-591, 2016 WL 5818414 (D.D.C. Oct. 5, 2016) (Bates, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning specific FERC regulatory proceedings
Disposition: Granting plaintiff's motion for attorney fees; awarding plaintiff $60,168.19 in attorney fees
- Attorney Fees: "[T]he Court will grant [plaintiff's] attorney's fees in the requested amount of $60,168.19." The court finds that "the four factors point in conflicting directions." "The second and third factors counsel against granting [plaintiff's] motion for attorney's fees: [plaintiff] is a requester that 'seek[s] documents for private advantage' and therefore may not need a strong incentive to litigate, and [plaintiff's] pursuit of the documents has provided a significant public benefit and has overcome recalcitrant agency conduct." "However, the first and fourth factors counsel in favor of granting [plaintiff's] motion: the public derived a benefit from the materials released in response to the litigation, and the agency did not have a reasonable basis for withholding the documents that it initially refused to release." "While '[n]o one factor is dispositive,' given FERC's conduct, the fourth factor carries the greatest weight here." The court relates that, "[h]ere, 'FERC at first answered [plaintiff's] two requests with blanket denials." "It was only after [plaintiff] filed suit that FERC 'softened its stance and [ ] released several documents.'" "And it was only after the Court denied the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment that another [set of] documents were released in whole or in part."