Nossaman Recognized for Top Verdict in $65.9 Million Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency Win

Daily Journal

A Nossaman team led by Patrick Richard and Byron Gee, and including Fred FudaczIlse Scott and Raven McGuane, was honored in the Daily Journal’s “Top Verdicts“ supplement for having one of the largest plaintiff’s verdicts in California in 2022 – a $65.9 million judgement for client Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV). The case, Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency v. Whittaker Corp. et al., was initiated when SCV sued over the “problem of historic groundwater contamination.”

Daily Journal writes, “A federal jury agreed with the county’s claims against Whittaker Corp. and awarded $65.9 million for remediation and new treatment facilities to remove perchlorate and volatile organic compounds from impacted wells.”

Commenting on the case, Byron said, “These issues go back to the manufacture of millions of rounds of ammunition assembled for the World War II effort. Some of the water supply wells have been contaminated by the Whittaker-Bermite site and some of them were required to be shut down.”

He added, “The money will be used to install the contamination treatment facilities that will restore the lost capacity associated with these drinking water wells. Being in the third straight year of drought, the groundwater supply for Santa Clarita Valley Water is very important and will help ensure they will be able to supply customers with drinking water.”

Patrick said that during the trial “part of our theme was cover-up… we found a man from CalEPA who’d been on the site in the 1980s and talked about seeing barrels bursting and dumping sites not disclosed. We also had Whittaker’s internal memos from back then. Those went to the company’s knowledge of what was going on.”

He closed by saying, “This was a complex and very important case. Given California’s water use challenges and the damage done by a polluter that didn’t take responsibility.”

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