Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) has sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the agency’s refusal to allow U.S. Forest Service employees to testify in a lawsuit seeking up to $1 billion in damages allegedly caused by a 2007 forest fire. Sierra Pac. Indus. v. USDA, No. 11-671 (E.D. Cal. filed 5/09/11). Plaintiffs allege they were wrongly blamed for the fire, which burned 65,000 acres in Plumas and Lassen counties, and seek an order allowing them to depose 10 Forest Service employees about the fire. According to a government report, the fire was started by a bulldozer operated by an SPI contractor, but plaintiff has allegedly found witnesses who will contradict the report. The complaint alleges that the report’s conclusions are wrong and the report is based on a flawed investigation and “contrived confessions by the bulldozer operators, which the operators subsequently testified they never made.” USDA denied requests for depositions of its employees as unnecessarily burdensome. The complaint alleges that the denial is an arbitrary and capricious decision which violates the Administrative Procedure Act.