Due to the lapse in appropriations, Department of Justice websites will not be regularly updated. The Department’s essential law enforcement and national security functions will continue. Please refer to the Department of Justice’s contingency plan for more information.

Yonemoto v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, No. 12-16662, 12-16793, 2013 WL 6344894 (9th Cir. December 6, 2013) (Tashima, C. J., Fletcher, C. J., Berzon, C. J.)

Friday, December 6, 2013
Re: Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees resulting from litigation concerning plaintiff's request for certain defendant e-mails Disposition: Affirming the district court's grant of attorney's fees to plaintiff
  • Attorney's Fees:  The court affirms the decision of the district court.  The court finds that "[t]he district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that 'Plaintiff's action has resulted in a public benefit by shedding light on [defendant's] treatment of its personnel, forcing [defendant] to comply with [the FOIA], and uncovering other emails bearing on problems with the agency's operations.'"  The court also concludes that "[n]or was it an abuse of discretion to conclude that [plaintiff's] 'personal and commercial interest' in the materials sought is 'outweighed by the public benefit of the action and [defendant's] failure to disclose the disputed documents earlier.'"  However, the court also finds that "[t]he district court may . . . have abused its discretion in assessing another factor supporting [plaintiff's] entitlement to attorneys' fees: whether [defendant's] 'withholding of the records sought had a reasonable basis in law.'"  The court explains that "[a]lthough the Court does not find that [defendant] acted in bad faith, ... [defendant's] initial refusal to disclose the 157 emails to [plaintiff] was not entirely reasonable."  However, the court finds that "[o]n balance . . . the overall reasonableness of the government's litigation behavior, supports [plaintiff's] entitlement to attorneys' fees."  The court also finds that "[t]he district court did not abuse its discretion in reducing [plaintiff's] fee award to reflect his limited success" and that "[i]t was not an abuse of discretion for the district court to conclude that [plaintiff'] 'is not entitled to fees with respect to the documents produced in response to the EEOC discovery process.'"
Attorney Fees
Court of Appeals
Updated August 6, 2014