A federal court in California has entered an order granting the motion of conventional alfalfa farmers and environmental groups for an award of attorney’s fees and costs in litigation that successfully challenged a U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) decision to de-regulate genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa without conducting an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Geertson Seed Farms v. Johanns, No. 06-01075 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., decided November 8, 2011). While the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately reversed lower court rulings in the case as to the scope of relief granted, the core determination that APHIS had violated NEPA survived the appeal. Due to the “limited” nature of the plaintiffs’ success, the court imposed a 10-percent reduction on their request and ordered a total award of $1.6 million. The defendant had argued that the plaintiffs were entitled to $829,422 only.
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