DAVID F. STEARNS

ATTORNEY

206.535.6009
david@verislawgroup.com

David focuses his practice primarily on environmental litigation, water rights, and regulatory defense. He represents clients in cost recovery actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), in land use appeals, and in construction defect claims.

David brings a wealth of experience from his previous position as an assistant attorney general in the Ecology Division of the Washington Attorney General’s Office (Ecology) where he advised clients on complex environmental and natural resource issues, and litigated a variety of matters before the Pollution Control Hearings Board, including water quality penalties, conditional no exposure certifications, and water right relinquishment orders. David has handled cases through all phases of litigation from taking expert depositions to arguing before the state court of appeals. David also has significant experience with the energy facilities site locations act and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

David honed his legal writing during law school as a judicial extern for Judge Stephen Dwyer on Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals. David also volunteered for the Thurston County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project, where he helped tenants facing imminent eviction.

Representative Matters

  • Serves as a Special Assistant Attorney General advising the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council on issues related to the environmental review of an application for site certification for a facility that would store and transfer oil from rail to marine vessels.
  • Secured a favorable published decision from the Washington Court of Appeals in the Growth Management Act case of Fox v. Skagit County.
  • Represented the State of Washington in the Yakima Basin Adjudication, taking the lead in negotiating and drafting major procedural orders governing the conclusion of a case spanning forty years and quieting title to thousands of water rights.
  • Served as lead advisor to Ecology’s Trust Water Rights Program. Reviewed individual trust water right agreements and instruments, and gave programmatic advice on water right acquisitions policies.
  • Successfully defended a citizen suit challenging Ecology’s issuance of a Conditional No Exposure Certification to an industrial site under the Clean Water Act.

Admissions

Member, Washington State Bar Association (WSBA)

Articles and Presentations

  • Co-Chair, Environmental & Land Use Law Section Midyear Meeting & Conference (May 2016).
  • Presenter, “Washington Water Rights, Sales, and Transfers,” Lorman Educational Services (May 2016).
  • Presenter, “Drought Law 101,” Washington Water Right Transfers CLE, The Seminar Group (November 2015).
  • Presenter, “Yakima Adjudication History and Status,” Washington Water Rights for National Forests Mini Workshop, U.S. Forest Service (November 2015).

Education

J.D., University of Washington School of Law (2012)
B.A., cum laude, Whitman College (2007)

Personal

David is a sixth-generation Pacific Northwesterner who enjoys traveling with his wife, rough housing with his pit bull, and conversing with just about anyone. On the weekends he likes to hike, ski, see live music, or stay in with a good book.