Settlement agreements in litigation

Here is a textbook example, from the Stanislaus National Forest travel planning process.

  1. The Forest Service makes a decision
  2. Plaintiffs sue
  3. Intervention granted to supporters of the decision
  4. Court finds Forest Service violated a procedural analysis requirement
  5. Plaintiffs, intervenors and Forest Service agree on an interim solution while the process is redone

It looks like win/win/win/win:

  • Plaintiffs: “Now we have 40 miles of the worst routes officially closed.”
  • Intervenors: “At the end of the day, we need to be partners in effective forward-looking management and allowing this agreement to be approved as opposed to tilting at windmills.”
  • Forest Service: “Diverse riding and driving opportunities for motorized recreation and dispersed camping still abound on the forest with over 230 miles of OHV trails available.”
  • General public:  Gets another chance to participate in the process

(Of course the goal in most litigation is to settle a case before a judge has to decide it.)

2 Comments

  1. In the part of the Stanislaus where I live, the public took part of the issues to the polls. They voted to exclude OHV’s from places where people live, including the forested area across the street from me. We still get vehicles in that area but, at least the knowledgeable riders stay out. Of course, some trucks sneak in there, poaching firewood. I think that land belongs to a sewage agency but, they don’t maintain their fences too well. My older neighbor lady didn’t like it when kids built jumps and trails for their BMX bikes, so she called the USFS to tear down the stuff on Forest Service lands. It is a pretty nice place to walk around, with some old growth left but, it’s really not very big for how old it is. No evidence of big stumps out there.

  2. Win/win/win? I can’t tell if this post is a joke or not.

    Taxpayers get to pay tens of thousands in legal fees to enviros.
    Forest Service gets to plan for another few years.
    Forest Service makes decision.
    Lawsuit is filed.
    Repeat.

    The goal is not to settle after being litigated. The goal is to settle before litigation or win the court case.

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