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Opening Brief Filed in Moonlight Fire Appeal

By Jonathan Keim | November 19th, 2015

Last week the defendants filed their opening appeal brief in the Moonlight Fire case, which concerns the federal government’s disastrous attempt to extract as much as a billion dollars from several companies for their alleged involvement in a California wildfire. As I’ve written before, the government’s case was joined at the hip with a case advanced by the state of California in state court. The state case took a turn for the worse in early 2014 when a state trial judge tossed out the state of California’s allegations and sanctioned the state because of misconduct by government investigators and the existence of an undisclosed, off-the-books slush fund. Other happenings raised ethical concerns andundermined confidence in the merits of the governments’ cases.Although Sierra Pacific, the lead defendant, had agreed to settle the federal case in the meantime, recently-revealed documents and the state court’s findings cast such doubt on the fairness of the federal settlement that, they argued, the trial court should reject it as a fraud on the court.

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