Bill Warner, Ojai Valley News reporter
The Casitas Municipal Water District (CMWD) is violating the constitutional rights of Golden State Water Company (GSWC). That's the contention of GSWC's latest move in CMWD's eminent domain case against it. Filed earlier this month in Ventura Superior Court, a motion drafted by GSWC attorney George Soneff seeks to block a civil portion of CMWD's suit seeking damages for expenses, arguing the plaintiffs cannot hold GSWC civilly liable for GSWC's constitutional right to petition the government.
GSWC has filed its motion under the California anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, according to Ojai Friends of Locally Owned Water (Ojai F.L.O.W.) attorney Ryan Blatz. “Golden State had a full opportunity to participate in its failed lawsuit,” he said, “and they lost in the trial court and lost on appeal. Now they're arguing that forcing the company to pay damages would be a violation of its right to petition the government for redress of grievances.”