In Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. v. The Wilderness Society, the United States Supreme Court struck a severe blow to public interest litigation, particularly in the area of environmental law, by eliminating the "private attorney general" exception to the American rule. Although the American rule required parties in judicial proceedings to pay their own attorneys' fees, this exception had arisen which permitted public interest claimants to be awarded attorneys' fees. This article discusses the holding in Alyeska and examines the legal precedents and policy considerations of the private attorney general concept in order to demonstrate that the Supreme Court should not have eliminated the private attorney general exception to the American rule.
Robert L. Matthews,
A Setback for Environmental and Other Public Interest Plaintiffs: Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. v. The Wilderness Society, 421 U.S. 240 (1975),
55 Neb. L. Rev. 283
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol55/iss2/5