June 10, 2009


WCCO 830 AM’s “Minnesota Law” radio show on Saturday, June 20, 2009 at Noon will focus on the Minnesota Equal Access to Justice Act (MEAJA).  Host Tom Shroyer will discuss MEAJA with Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group Chair Joseph Maternowski and special guest Mike Hickey, the State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).


The show will feature a discussion of MEAJA, which protects Minnesota small businesses and their owners in cases where the State takes them to Court but where it is later determined that the State’s case was not “substantially justified.”  In cases where a judge determines that the State did not have a substantial basis in law or fact for its case, the prevailing party may recover its attorneys and costs from the State.  The NFIB has supported the enactment of MEAJA in 1986 and amendments which have passed including a change in the 2009 session that lifted the cap on attorneys fees.  MEAJA had previously limited a recovery of attorneys fees to a rate of $125 per hour unless a party could demonstrate that specialized expertise was required to handle a matter. In the past session of the Minnesota Legislature MEAJA was amended to lift the cap.  The legislative change means that a business may recover fees at a prevailing rate as determined by the Court.


Mr. Maternowski’s clients have been awarded attorneys fees under MEAJA in two separate cases involving the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  The fee awards, $111,500 and $66,000, respectively, represent the highest amounts recovered under the law. Mr. Maternowski, an environmental attorney with over 25 years of experience, has written several articles and addressed groups discussing MEAJA.  For further information, please see the articles at:https://www.enviroattorney.net/index.php?action=showposts&id=51,https://www.enviroattorney.net/David.pdf and https://www.enviroattorney.net/Fee-Award-Article.pdf.


The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, Hessian & McKasy P.A.


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