O’Melveny Worldwide

Benchmark Litigation Names Kline 2021 “West Coast, Environmental Litigator of the Year”

March 31, 2021


CENTURY CITY—March 31, 2021—O’Melveny partner Matt Kline has been named a 2021 “West Coast, Environmental Litigator of the Year” by Benchmark Litigation.

This marks the third consecutive year Benchmark Litigation has recognized Kline, who was named “California Environmental/Natural Resources Litigation Attorney of the Year” in 2019 and 2020. O’Melveny was also named “California Environmental/Natural Resources Litigation Firm of the Year” in 2019 and 2020.

Kline, who heads the firm’s Water Industry Group, was recognized for his work on a number of important victories in water-rights cases with far-reaching implications. These include his team’s August 2019 win on behalf of the Coachella Valley Water District, which supports a thriving multibillion-dollar economy, including California’s second largest agricultural region. At stake were longstanding water management policies and, under plaintiff’s theory, a loss could have required cutting off all imports of Colorado River water or construction of the largest desalination plant in the world, at a cost of billions of dollars.

Working on behalf of a coalition of commercial agricultural landowners in Ventura County, Kline also successfully enforced a settlement in the first basin-wide, comprehensive groundwater adjudication following the enactment of California’s groundbreaking legislation, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The settlement is the first phase of this unprecedented case—the first of an impending wave of basin-wide comprehensive groundwater adjudications under SGMA—with wide-ranging ramifications not only for future water-rights litigation, but also on how water is used, divided, and preserved across California for decades. Another achievement included a bench trial win for clients in a lawsuit challenging Measure Z, a Monterey County voter initiative barring various forms of long-used water treatment processes, which would have shut down an industry and affected an unconstitutional taking and due process violation.

“I’m honored to be recognized by Benchmark Litigation,” Kline said. “I share this award with the water team, whose success is a credit to their thought leadership and talent.” Kline noted he was equally proud of the cases where, through careful planning, strategic thinking, and successful negotiation, he and the group were able to help clients avoid litigation.

Kline thanked his litigation colleagues in the water group Buzz Thompson, Heather Welles, Russ McGlothlin, Laura Lorenz, Daniel Suvor, Katie Takakjian, Kelsey Irish, Brad Garcia, Anton Metlitsky, Dimitri Portnoi, Kevin Kraft, Zach Smith, Seth Fortin, Catherine Howard, Katie Sinclair, Kathryn Turner, Kelly McTigue, Sophie Tarazi, and Haben Tesfai.

Benchmark Litigation, a leading guide to firms and lawyers worldwide, conducts a months-long research process that includes extensively interviewing litigators and their clients to identifying outstanding cases and their practitioners.

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Christopher Rieck
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
+1 212 326 2218