City wins Ninth Circuit appeal on fees in seals’ lawsuit

Public interest attorney Bryan Pease spoke with reporters during a press conference May 15, the day a rope barrier separating humans and seals was removed at the Children's Pool in La Jolla.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 25 affirmed the San Diego District Court’s ruling and denied a motion for attorney’s fees and costs made by attorney Bryan Pease in the La Jolla Friends of the Seals (“Friends”) case.

A release sent to the media by the City Attorney’s office said the decision reinforces the lower court’s ruling that the “City” and “Friends” shared the same goal of protecting the seals during the pupping season by passing resolutions calling for a rope barrier to protect the seals. The appellate court confirmed that the district court correctly concluded that the City was not an “opposing party” within the California Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, and did not abuse its discretion.

Deputy City Attorney George Schaefer, who defended the City in the case since its inception in 2008, described the appellate decision denying lawyer’s fees as a “clear victory for the City’s taxpayers.”

Pease, a candidate for the District 1 City Council seat, said Friday he feels the City Attorney should “thank me” for saving taxpayers $688,934 per year — the estimated cost of the city’s failed seal-dispersal plan, which involved playing a recording of dogs barking from 6 a.m. to sundown at Children’s Pool.

Pease was able to get a district court trial judge to issue a temporary restraining order to block the plan and to install a six-month rope barrier separating seals and humans during pupping season — a policy the city council ultimately supported.

Pease said his unpaid court fees were around $50,000, while the city paid Paul Kennerson, the lawyer who pushed for dispersal of the seals, close to $1 million.

“It wasn’t like I was requesting a huge sum for the money I saved the city and the work I put into it,” Pease said. “I don’t know why they would issue a press release for cheating a public interest attorney. … Why doesn’t the city attorney also give back his salary that he earned during this time?”

The City Council voted to close the Children’s Pool to the public during the harbor seal pupping season. It is currently seeking a state permit for a year-round rope barrier, which Pease and La Jolla Friends of Seals are also advocating for.

Related posts:

  1. As Children’s Pool rope comes down, seal advocates continue push for year-round barrier
  2. New ranger set to start work at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool
  3. La Jolla seal debate goes back to court on Thursday
  4. Seal supporters protest shared use at pool
  5. Free speech is latest battleground at Children’s Pool

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=87524

Posted by Pat Sherman on May 25, 2012. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News, Seal Watch. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

7 Comments for “City wins Ninth Circuit appeal on fees in seals’ lawsuit”

  1. Pro-Seal

    Anti-seal attorney Paul Kennerson actually cashed $1.3 million in taxpayers money in the case against the seals that George Schaefer lost for the City.

  2. Annoyed

    Typical City behavior. Can't the city just do what's right? How about asking for a refund from Paul Kennerson-the losing lawyer who sucked up $1 dollars and lost? No, they have to go after the little guy. I'm not impressed George Schaeffer. And you want to be a judge? If wasting $1 million on a losing battle and then screwing the winner out of hard earned fees is what we can expect out of you if you are elected judge, good riddance.

    • Seal Team 6

      Sorry that your Annoyed, but Paul Kennerson did not lose, he won the case and was awarded fees for 4 years spent on the case. The city lobbed legislature to get out of the lawsuit to save money, which they did and the trust of the Children's Pool was amended to allow the seals to stay for now.
      But guess what! Paul Kennerson is Back and filed a new lawsuit on May 1 2012 on behalf of a fisherman for breach of trust, section B where the first lawsuit was based on section A which covered many uses and one more use was just added, section B covers only one use, the absolute right to fish with covenant access!

  3. Guest

    When does Pease owe the 50K to the courts? Rumor has it aprl may have to file BK.

    • bigdipper

      Not at all. The $50k is a number he made up. Now he considers it pro bono work for his own non profit, and writes it off as a donation.He has done it before. 50k tax deduction is like $20k in your pocket. He is doing fine.

      • Guest

        So it's only 30K out of pocket via APRL to cover attorney fees owed to the court versus 50K once the donation is made and tax deduction takes place at the end of the year. Quite the donation to be made for someone who works pro bono. Thanks for clarifying "Big Dipper"! (and why would he lie this number owed for attorney fees if he knew he was being quoted in a local newspaper as an attorney running for city council?)

  4. G.T.

    Why would an attorney running for city council make up what he owes in court fees when he's knowingly aware he's being quoted publicly in response to a local news release? And highly doubtful he's doing just fine.

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