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Moonlight Fire Litigation

By Donna Mallard | Jul. 2, 2015

Law Office Management

Jul. 2, 2015

Moonlight Fire Litigation

An update in the Moonlight Fire case.

On April 13, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California conducted a hearing regarding defendant Sierra Pacific Industries' motion to set aside the $122.5 million 2012 settlement in the federal Moonlight fire litigation, which was the subject of our April cover story ["Still Smoldering"].

Just four days after reviewing the massive motion (and after California Lawyer went to press), the court emphatically rejected the timber company's contention that federal prosecutors perpetrated a "fraud on the court." Judge William B. Shubb concluded in a 63-page written order: "Defendants made a calculated decision to settle this case almost two years ago, and a final judgment was entered pursuant to their agreement. To set that judgment aside, the law requires a showing of fraud on the court, not an imperfect investigation. Defendants have failed to identity even a single instance of fraud on the court, certainly none on the part of any attorney for the government. They repeatedly argue that fraud on the court can be found by considering the totality of the allegations. Here, the whole can be no greater than the sum of its parts. Stripped of all its bluster, defendants' motion is wholly devoid of any substance." (United States v. Sierra Pacific Indus., 2015 WL 1767408, at *28 (E.D. Cal.)

Sierra Pacific promptly lodged a notice of appeal, and the dispute will smolder on in the Ninth Circuit. (United States v. Sierra Pacific Indus., No. 15-15799 (9th Cir. appeal filed April 20, 2015).)


Donna Mallard

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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