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Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

$5.5M Calif. Settlement Awaits Governor Brown

SACRAMENTO (CN) - A California senate bill appropriating $12.9 million for five settlements against the state, including $5.5 for a timber management case, is expected to be signed quickly by Governor Brown, according to a report in Friday's Eureka Times-Standard.

The bill, SB 730, approves payments totaling $5.5 million for the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) and the United Steelworkers union, both plaintiffs in a 2008 suit against Pacific Lumber Co. (Palco), regarding the 1999 Headwaters Forest timber management plan the California Department of Forestry approved, the story states. The California Supreme Court reportedly ruled that the 50-year plan was inadequate and "that any new sustained yield plans must include an analysis of logging in individual watersheds," according to the Times-Standard.

The United Steelworkers union purportedly joined with EPIC in the suit because it was on strike against Kaiser Steel, a company owned by Palco's parent company, Maxxam Inc., and because the union recognized that the suit encouraged forest sustainability, the report continues.

The United Steelworks are to receive $2 million in the settlement, and the remaining $3.5 million will be paid to ten of EPIC's attorneys who worked on the case for about 13 years, the Times-Standard says. EPIC's Executive Director, Gary Hughes, maintains that the settlement amount was less than half of the actual attorneys' fees, the story said.

State Senator Doug LaMalfa, whose district includes Del Norte and Trinity counties, voiced concerns that the bill rewards frivolous lawsuits and puts Americans out of work, but Hughes maintains that the landmark decision is important for environmental protection. "Palco did not fulfill their end of the deal, and the State of California had made serious errors and violated the law in approving that sustained yield plan," Hughes told the Times-Standard.

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