Our first runner-up this week is a team at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips who defended Liberty Utilities in a rare piece of eminent domain litigation in California. On Monday, San Bernardino County Superior Judge Donald Alvarez rejected an attempt by the Town of Apple Valley to take over the town’s water system via eminent domain. The trial, which began in October 2019 and resumed after a hiatus during the pandemic, involved 67 days of trial testimony, more than 850 exhibits, and a transcript of more than 8,500 pages. Judge Alvarez concluded Monday that the company demonstrated Apple Valley residents would be better served if it continued to own and operate the system instead of the town. The defense team was led by the firm’s real estate litigation leader George Soneff, real estate litigation partners Ed Burg and David Moran, and associate Lauren Fried.
Daniel Ansell, Hal Beerman, Richard Edlin, and William Goines of Greenberg Traurig also get runners-up honors for securing a win for Vornado after a two-week Zoom bench trial involving the 15-year lease for the “The Cube,” the building located at 345 Montgomery Street in San Francisco. Lessee IWG claimed that it was entitled to terminate because the city planning department repeatedly said it disapproved of IWG’s proposed marquee signage, which Vornado promised under the lease. But San Francisco Superior Judge Harold Kahn this week found in Vornado’s favor, ruling that IWG’s termination was ineffective since the planning department never issued an official denial for the signage permit, leaving IWG on the hook for about $120 million in lease liabilities.