Press Releases Feb 22, 2019

Groundwater Rights Trial Earns Top Verdict Honor from Daily Journal

BB&K Leads Water Agencies’ Defense

For Immediate Release: Feb. 22, 2019
Media Contact: Denise Nix • (213) 787-2552 •
IRVINE, Calif. – A verdict favoring water agencies in a first-of-its-kind trial was named a Top Verdict for 2018 by the Daily Journal.
Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Jeff Dunn led a team of defense lawyers, including BB&K Of Counsel Wendy Wang, in successfully convincing a jury that water suppliers had acquired prescriptive groundwater rights to the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin during times of groundwater shortage conditions. The City of Paso Robles, BB&K’s client, was one of the agencies sued by about 600 landowners seeking to claim quiet title to groundwater rights.
The Daily Journal called the verdict “a significant chapter in California’s water wars” in the legal newspaper’s annual Top Verdicts supplement, published Feb. 20.
“It was the first jury trial ever on groundwater rights between citizens and public entities and only the third time that all the elements of public entities’ claim to prescriptive rights were tried in court,” Jeff told the Daily Journal. He explained that these disputes are generally resolved in administrative proceedings. “The plaintiffs wanted a jury, and the judge said all right,” Jeff added.
The 4-week trial on the 5-year-old dispute was the first dispute tried after the passing of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and the first time a jury in California was asked to decide complex issues over priority and prescriptive groundwater rights, the Daily Journal noted.
“There’s not plenty of water,” Jeff said. “And the water rights aren’t simple.”
Read more about Steinbeck Vineyards et al. v. County of San Luis Obispo et al.
The full Daily Journal article is available here [subscription required].


Best Best & Krieger LLP is a national law firm that focuses on environmental, business, education, municipal and telecommunications law for public agency and private clients. With more than 200 attorneys, the law firm has 10 offices nationwide, including Los Angeles, Irvine, Riverside and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit or follow @BBKlaw on Twitter or @BestBestKrieger on Facebook.


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