The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed an appeals court ruling that awarded attorney fees to the Governor Terry Branstad’s brother in a case involving a fish kill.
Monroe “Monty” Branstad admitted that silage discharge from a basin his property near Forest City entered the Winnebago River and led to a fish kill. But Branstad challenged the DNR fish kill estimate of 31,000 fish — as only 2,233 fish were actually counted.
The district court found the method used to calculate the number of dead fish did not follow state rules and lowered the restitution owed by Branstad from $62,000 to around $5,300. Branstad asked for $71,000 dollars in attorney fees for the cost of appealing the improper fish estimate.
The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Branstad had to appeal the case to get the restitution amount and the case did not fall under the exemptions in the Iowa Code that prevent the award of attorney fees and expenses.
But the Iowa Supreme Court says the Branstad case does fall under code exemptions and no fees should be paid. The Supreme Court says there have been attempts in the Iowa Legislature to ease the restrictions on the awarding of attorney fees against the state, but says lawmakers rejected the propose changes over concerns of the cost to the state of awarding the fees.
See more on the ruling here: Supreme Court Monte Branstad ruling PDF