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More litigation



To the Michigan Environemntal Community
>From Julie Stoneman, MEC

Yet another critical appeal has been filed with the Michigan Supreme 
Court in hopes they'll overturn a lower court decision that prevents 
the awarding of attorney fees under MEPA cases.  A request for leave to 
appeal has been filed by attorney Fred Dilley (Grand Rapids) on behalf 
of a citizens' group, the Platt Lake Improvement Association (PLIA).   
Again, environmental organizations are needed to sign on to a brief in 
support of PLIA's request for leave to appeal to get the high court's 
attention.

The consequences are straightforward.  If citizens initiate and win 
environmental cases but cannot recover attorney fees, citizens will 
stop initiating litigation.  We know the need for attorney fees only 
too well in our recent scramble to find resources for filing briefs in 
the K & K Construction and Crystal River cases.  

In this instance, a grass-roots environmental group, PLIA, successfully 
upheld the public interest in a clean environment in a case against the 
DNR/DEQ.  They were awarded 100% of costs and attorney fees after the 
trial in 1994.  Nine days after the award, the Court of Appeals decided 
Attorney General v. Pillar which prevents collection of attorney fees 
under MEPA and which subsequently set aside the award to PLIA.   PLIA 
appealed to the Court of Appeals and on August 23, 1996, the Court 
upheld the finding in Pillar.  PLIA is now requesting the Michigan 
Supreme Court to hear their case.

After twenty years, the "common law of environmental quality" which 
enabled citizens to cover legal costs in prevailing cases has been 
undone.  Let's turn it around.

We need environmental organizations to do two things:
1.	Agree to sign on to an amici brief in support of PLIA's request
	for leave to appeal.
2.	Agree to sign on and contribute funds to this case.

Of course, the brief needed to be filed yesterday.  If you can sign on, 
lease let me know no later than Friday, October 11--Attn:  Julie,
mec@mienv.org
Thanks

p.s.  Time to create a Michigan Environmental Defense organization.  
I've been talking with Alan Bennett, current chair of the Michigan 
Environmental Protelction Foundation, about reviving it as a statewide 
legal defense group.  MEPF was spun off by WMEAC in the 80s.  Let me 
know what you'd like to see a statewide group do.