Lockyers, county fight over court costs in ridgeline case
Both sides in the visually important ridgeline lawsuit are battling over court costs as the case takes its first steps toward an appeal.
Juliet Erickson and Peter Lockyer argue they’re entitled to over $25,000 in fees from Nevada County in the years-long land-use case. County attorneys say in court documents that the Lockyers’ claim is about a fifth of that.
“You’re only allowed to claim certain costs,” said Alison Barratt-Green, county counsel.
The issue of court costs stems from an August judgement penned by Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling. In that judgement, Dowling named the Lockyers the prevailing party and awarded them court costs but not attorney’s fees, the latter of which could total hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The attorney’s fees are linked to the Lockyers’ claim that the county committed a “taking” — denying them the use of their land — by requiring them to maintain a treeline as a condition of getting a building permit.
Dowling said no county employee had malice when processing the building permit and that no “taking” occurred, both of which were necessary for any award of attorney’s fees. He did, however, say the county couldn’t apply its visually important ridgeline ordinance to building permits, which led to his naming the Lockyers the prevailing party and awarding them court costs.
The Lockyers have appealed the “taking” decision to the Third District Court of Appeals. Allan Haley, an attorney for the Lockyers, has said that appeal could take years.
The separate question of court costs, which include the price to file motions and hire court reporters, continues to move through the local Superior Court.
Assistant County Counsel Amanda Uhrhammer states in court filings that the Lockyers’ monetary claims for filing and motion fees, along with deposition, service and court-ordered transcript costs are improper.
One item, the court-ordered transcripts, costs $7,499, the filing states.
“Defendant has no information as to what this rather exorbitant amount represents,” Uhrhammer states.
Additionally, the Lockyers ask for $5,790.30 for models and exhibit photocopies.
Uhrhammer states the Lockyers lost that portion of the case and shouldn’t recover any of that cost.
The Lockyers in their response dismiss the county’s argument.
“We just look at the judgment to mean what it says,” Haley said. “We understand the judgment to mean we get all of our costs.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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