Following our successful defense of Liberty Utilities in 2021 against the Town of Apple Valley’s attempt to take over the Apple Valley water system through eminent domain, Manatt’s litigation team, led by Real Estate Litigation Partners George Soneff and Edward Burg, obtained a ruling on August 5, 2022, awarding our client $13.2 million in attorney’s fees and costs.
This case began in January 2016, when the Town of Apple Valley brought suit against Liberty, arguing that customers would benefit from municipal ownership of the Apple Valley water system. Central to the Town’s claim was the presumption that municipal ownership would lead to lower water rates and increased transparency. After a 70-day trial, which included 850 admitted exhibits and an 8,500-plus-page transcript, Judge Donald Alvarez concluded that Liberty demonstrated Apple Valley residents would be better served if Liberty continued to own and operate the system, and would be worse off if the Town were to take ownership of the system.
The decision in this second-of-its-kind case, which was issued in May 2021, marks the third trial court victory for Manatt in defending investor-owned utilities against eminent domain challenges.
The Manatt litigation team also included Real Estate Litigation Partner David Moran.