W. Energy Alliance v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv., No. 13-02811, 2014 WL 4357455 (D. Colo. Sept. 2, 2014) (Krieger, C.J.)
Re: Request for records concerning peer review of Greater Sage-grouse Conservation Objectives Final Report
Disposition: Denying plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees and costs
Attorney Fees, Entitlement:Regarding the first factor, the court finds that "[a]lthough [plaintiff] nakedly alleges that its use of the material will benefit the public, there is no demonstration that the documents were disseminated for the benefit of the 'public' as opposed to the benefit of only [plaintiff's] dues-paying members." Next, the court finds that "[plaintiff's] use of the material also informs the Court's analysis of the second and third factors, the commercial benefit to the complainant and the nature of the complainant's interest in the records sought." "The fourth factor, whether the government had a reasonable basis in law for withholding the records, however, weighs for an award of attorney fees." The court explains that "[defendant] admits that it 'did not respond to the request until litigation had commenced.'" Nevertheless, "because three of the four factors weigh against an award, and [defendant] cooperated in resolving the matter quickly after litigation commenced, the Court finds that an award of attorney fees is not justified in this case."