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Attorney’s Fees Awarded|for De-Occupy Hawaii

HONOLULU (CN) - Attorneys who represented De-Occupy Honolulu in an illegal seizure claim will receive $80,000 in fees and expenses, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright on March 9 awarded $79,687 to De-Occupy's attorneys.

The attorneys sought $220,101.

From February to November 2012 city police conducted raids in downtown Thomas Square, seizing and detaining De-Occupy members and their properties.

The group sued the city in December that year, asking the court to strike down the city's Stored Property Ordinance, and damages. The law allows city officials to seize personal belongings from public property after providing 24-hour notice.

De-Occupy asserted 14 causes of action but failed to succeed on any of them.

Seabright adopted U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang's recommendation after the district court carried out an independent review due to objections from both parties.

The city in February this year asked the court to reverse Chang's conclusion that Occupy Honolulu and its members are prevailing parties eligible to recover attorney fees.

The city in June 2014 agreed to pay De-Occupy $1,000 in damages for unreturned and destroyed properties.

But the "prevailing party" is not necessarily the winning party, the city said. It is any party court determines to be entitled to money payments from the other.

Deputy City Counsel Ernest Nomura said Chang misread 9th circuit cases. The $1,000 De-Occupy received in a settlement agreement was not a compensation for damages, Nomura said.

"The SPO [Stored Property Ordinance] stands intact now as it did at the time it was enacted and as it did when plaintiffs first sought to challenge it in December 2012. In fact, the city still enforces the SPO throughout the City and County of Honolulu to this day," Nomura wrote.

Nomura said the $1,000 settlement was a function of the SPO itself. The city will not settle cases if it means fee liability, he added.

The settlement agreement provided compensation to De-Occupy and members, however, small the amount, Seabright concluded.

De-Occupy Honolulu was represented by Brian Brazier and Richard Holcomb.

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