The Equal Access to Justice Act and US Forest Service Land Management: Incentives to Litigate?

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The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) provides for attorneys fees and court costs to be awarded to parties prevailing in litigation against US federal agencies. We examined EAJA awards paid by the US Forest Service from 1999 to 2005, finding more than $6 million awarded to various plaintiffs. Awards were most commonly paid to environmental litigants, although all categories of litigant stakeholders made use of the law. Although it remains uncertain whether EAJA provides an incentive to sue the US Forest Service in any specific instance, because litigation against the US Forest Service generally has a low probability of success, EAJA one-way fee shifting does alter litigation risks among potential plaintiffs. Frequent EAJA claimants often possess considerable financial resources calling into question how the purposes of the law have evolved in the last 20 years.

Keywords: courts; fees; interest groups; litigation; national forest

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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