Misguided. Deceptive. Not truthful. Corrupt. Tainted. Egregious. Systematic misdirection. Reprehensible conduct.
Those are some of the words Judge Leslie C. Nichols used last week to describe the tactics of CalFire and two of its lawyers. Nichols threw out the state’s $8 million lawsuit against Sierra Pacific Industries; and then ordered CalFire to pay SPI and its legal team $25 million for wasting their time.
We were pleased to hear about the judge’s ruling. It is vindication for the family-owned timber company with strong connections to Plumas County.
Sierra Pacific Industries has argued from the beginning that it had nothing to do with starting the 2007 Moonlight Fire.
Despite producing overwhelming evidence to that effect, the timber company was forced to hand over $122 million ($55 million in cash and 22,500 acres of prime timberland) to the federal government in 2012. The company really had no choice. It agreed to pay the largest settlement of its kind in U.S. history because the judge in the case (U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller) told SPI it could be held responsible for starting the fire even if it could prove it didn’t.