Stoel Rives California Client The Morning Star Company Wins Challenge of $1.5 Million Water Board Penalty

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Stoel Rives attorneys recently secured the rescission of a $1.5 million penalty from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board Central Valley Region (RWQCB) against their client, The Morning Star Company, L.P. Morning Star was represented by Stoel Rives’ California environmental and land use lawyer Kristen CastaƱos, with assistance from the firm’s water rights and water resources attorney,­­­ Wes Miliband.

The victory follows an appeal to the California State Water Board and a subsequent lawsuit in Colusa County Superior Court in which Morning Star identified evidence that contradicted RWQCB staff testimony that had led to the February 2016 penalty order.

“This is a remarkable win for Morning Star,” said CastaƱos. “They have an unwavering commitment to revealing the facts and remained vigilant in proving this case. It’s a career highlight to be on the winning side of a dispute that was ultimately proven through ‘smoking gun’ evidence.”

In February 2016, the RWQCB issued a penalty order citing regulatory violations related to pond expansions at a Morning Star tomato processing facility in Colusa County. State officials claimed Morning Star did not obtain authorization for such expansions and did not properly communicate with RWQCB staff. Evidence obtained through a Public Records Act request demonstrated otherwise.

Morning Star issued a press release on March 10, 2017 regarding the matter.

About Stoel Rives LLP: Stoel Rives is a leading U.S. corporate and litigation law firm. One of the largest national firms focused on energy, natural resources, environmental and climate change, Stoel Rives also serves the agribusiness, food and beverage, health care, life sciences and technology industries. With more than 350 attorneys operating out of 10 offices in seven states and the District of Columbia, Stoel Rives is a leader in regulatory and compliance matters, business, labor and employment law, intellectual property, land use, real estate development and construction law. For more information, follow us @stoelrives or visit

Key Contributors

Wesley A. Miliband
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