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The Fawley PLLC
Ventura River Watershed Adjudication Information Sheet
Fixed Price Proposal for Joint Defense Group Members
This communication is advertisement and solicitation for legal work and does not constitute a guarantee or prediction of results.


The City of San Buenaventura has sued thousands of property owners in the Ventura River Watershed Groundwater Basin under a California law that is designed to determine the water rights of the property owners.  If you have been sued, you have or will receive a package of information in the mail from the City that consists of a Summons and Complaint with instructions.


If you do not participate in the lawsuit, the Court may decide what your water rights are and the decision may be legally binding on you and anyone who later owns your property.  This can result in a reduction in the value of your property and a deprivation of or limitation on your use of water. 


To participate in the litigation, you must respond to the City’s complaint within 60 days of  service by filing an “Answer” and pay a $435 court filing fee.  After that, the Court will schedule hearings and decide motions and set a schedule for discovery and trial.  Along the way, you may be presented with an opportunity to settle your water rights claims.  Depending on the outcome of the case, there may be appeals.  These cases can take years to finally resolve.


If you have been sued, you have four basic options.  Each has its varying costs and risks.

  • Option 1:    Do nothing.  While the out of pocket costs will be $0, this option may carry the most risk because if you do not participate in the litigation, you may be stuck with whatever the Court decides with regard to your personal water rights.

  • Option 2:    If you are an individual and not a business, you can represent yourself “pro se” without the help of a lawyer.  Businesses can only be represented by lawyers.  To represent yourself “pro se,” you need to pay the court filing fee of $435 and file an Answer with the Court within 60 days of receiving the mailed service of the Summons and Complaint.  You will then need to attend hearings, review and respond to motions that may impact you, provide discovery responses and documents regarding your historic water usage, hire, pay for and manage any experts you need, prepare and file written testimony, participate in any trial as both witness and advocate and file any appeals and appeal briefs necessary.  Your risk will vary depending on your skills.

  • Option 3:    Hire a law firm to represent you in the litigation.  The law firm will likely charge an hourly fee that may be between $300 and $700 per hour for its services, the $435 filing fee and whatever it spends for expert witnesses and out of pocket expenses.  The total cost is unknown.  

  • Option 4:    Join with other Defendants to hire one law firm to represent a Joint Defense Group with each client paying a fixed fee.  Given that the litigation may take years to resolve and the total costs are unknown, in order to make a fixed fee joint defense economical, many Defendants would have to agree to join together.  


If enough clients wish to participate in a Fixed-Fee Joint Defense Group, the Environmental Law Firm of Fawley PLLC is prepared to handle each of the client's cases from the very beginning of the case through all phases including appeal, for a single fixed fee that will include the Court filing fee of $435.  The fixed fee will include:

  • Preparation and filing of your Answer

  • Preparation, filing and argument of any Motions

  • Attendance at all Court Hearings and Proceedings

  • Handling of all Discovery

  • Selection, management and payment of all Experts

  • Preparation of all Pre-Trial submissions

  • Preparation and filing of any pre-filed testimony

  • Handling of trial

  • Preparation and Filing of Any Post-trial Motions

  • Preparation and Filing of Any Appeals through Final Judgment

  • A secure website where you will receive timely and frequent updates on the developments in the case and where, through a secure and confidential portal, you can supply information to your counsel, review all filings and ask questions.


By pooling resources and efficiencies, Fawley PLLC can represent multiple clients for a fixed fee that may be significantly less per client than charging by the hour.  With a fixed fee, a client pays one amount once and shifts the risk of ongoing litigation costs to the law firm.


Your case will be handled by two environmental litigators that have over 70 years of combined courtroom experience.​

  • Rick Luskin is of-counsel to Fawley PLLC and was the Founding Executive Director and the President of the Walt Disney Company's Environmental Foundation.  In that position, he created several environmental organizations (Santa Monica and Santa Barbara Baykeepers, Sierra Nevada Alliance, and several others), spearheaded numerous environmental initiatives, lobbied and testified before Congress on national environmental issues.  He was instrumental in creating SLAPP (slap lawsuits against public participation) protection and was a pioneer in environmental defense of alpine environments. Rick has his Masters Degree in Land Use Planning and his law degree from the University of California Berkeley.

  • Brad Fawley is an environmental lawyer with 37 years of experience.  He obtained his Masters of Science in Oceanography in 1980 and after graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1983 has been practicing as an environmental litigator trying cases, including multiple citizens suits, in courts throughout the United States for the last 37 years.  Among other victories, he obtained a jury verdict of $10.4 million against a major bank for concealing environmental contamination and a settlement of $7 million against a manufacturer that contaminated his client’s property.

If I Am Interested In The Fawley PLLC Proposal, What Should I Do?
  • First --- Before February 15, 2020, you should register using the button on this page.  Registering obligates you to nothing.

  • Second --- Depending on the number of clients who register, Fawley PLLC will determine whether there is sufficient interest to create a Joint Defense Group of clients and, if so, what the fixed per client fee would be.  Depending on the number of clients that join the group.  The more people that join, the lower each client's fee will be.  If you jointly own property with a spouse or other person or family trust, your joint ownership will qualify you as one client paying one fee.  More complex businesses, such as agricultural enterprises, may be offered a higher fee or different arrangement. 

  • Third --- Those who register will receive an email on February 15 notifying them whether there was sufficient interest to create a Joint Defense Group.  If there is not sufficient interest, we advise you and we will not be offering our services and you will have no obligation to Fawley PLLC and not be represented by us.  In that case, you will need to find other legal counsel.

  • Fourth --- If there is sufficient interest, we will offer you an opportunity to become a client of Fawley PLLC and advise you of the fixed rate amount and the terms of our engagement in an engagement letter.  If you wish to engage us under those terms, you will then have one week to sign the engagement letter and send us the entire fixed fee.  Once you pay the fee and sign and return the engagement letter, you will be a client of Fawley PLLC and we will provide you with a Web portal for information and proceed to represent you - beginning with filing your Answer.


If you are interested in working with us and you know of neighbors and friends who have been targeted as Defendants, you may send a copy of or link to this Information Sheet to them.  The more Defendants who are aware of this opportunity and register, the more likely it is that there will be enough clients to justify forming a Joint Defense Group.

Disclaimer: The information in this Information Sheet is provided for general informational purposes only.  No information contained in this Sheet should be construed as legal advice from Richard S. Luskin, Attorney at Law or Fawley PLLC, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Information Sheet or Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in California or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.


Richard S. Luskin

California Bar No. 127733

Of Counsel  to FAWLEY LLC  3921 E. 2nd Street, Suite 7, Long Beach, CA 90803


R. Bradford Fawley

FAWLEY PLLC                                             

680 E. Main Street #596
Stamford, Connecticut  06901

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680 E. Main Street #596

Stamford, CT 06901                         



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