Farmer seeks legal fees from APA

"This was not just a legal mistake; this was a major policy blunder to disregard the beauty and art of the APA Act as a protection for farms," he stated. "It was never about the environment; it was never about visual impact or anything contained in the provisions of the [APA] Act."

'An increment of justice'

In addition to the $208,000, the farm has also suffered other setbacks as a result of the lawsuit, said Privitera, who called the recovery of attorney's fees "an increment of justice."

"We have been unable to use these unfinished farmhouses for two years because of this suit," he said. Also, the farm spent another $78,000 in legal fees that are not recoverable because they were incurred before the suit formally began.

"The Lewis Family Farm's business plans have been devastated by the agency," wrote Lewis in his motion affidavit.

While Privitera said suing for damages would be an option, neither he nor Lewis would comment on whether they would consider doing so.

If history is any indicator, the motion for legal fees is likely to be granted in court. Privitera said the government is almost always ordered to pay when such a motion is brought forth, and many such claims are not even challenged.

"Very rarely does the federal or state government ever assume the very heavy burden to show their position was substantially justified," he said.

Judge Meyer is charged with issuing a decision on the motion, and a Sept. 4 hearing has been scheduled, but will only be held if the judge deems it necessary.

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