Published Cases: 

Little Cottonwood Tanner Ditch Co. v. Sandy City, 2016 UT 45 (Utah 2016):  
Successfully defended Sandy City and others against canal companies’ attempt to modify the 1910 Little Cottonwood Creek Morse Decree, establishing water rights in Little Cottonwood Creek.

SEC v. Management Solutions, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122657 (D. Utah 2016):  
Represented claimants in Securities and Exchange Commission equity receivership and distribution case.

Heal Utah v. Kane County Water Conservancy District, 2016 UT App 153, 378 P.3d 1246 (Utah App. 2016):  
Successfully defended approved change applications for two water conservancy districts and developer of proposed nuclear power plant.  The state engineer and the district court approved the applications.  The issues on appeal concerned (1) unappropriated water; (2) public welfare and the natural stream environment (including endangered fish); and (3) physical and economic feasibility. 

Delta Canal Co. v. Frank Vincent Family Ranch, LC, 2013 UT 69 (Utah 2013):
Successfully argued before the Utah Supreme Court that under longstanding Utah law, water rights can be partially forfeited if not put to beneficial use. 

First National Bank of Wynne v. Twin Creeks Special Service District, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138788 (D. Utah 2013): Represented prevailing party on summary judgment against the FDIC in action brought to quiet title to disputed water rights and water stock based on trust deed priority.

Magna Water Co. v. Strawberry Water Users Association, 2012 UT App 184, 285 P.3d 1:
Case involving the state engineer’s recommendation concerning foreign (imported) water return flows from the Strawberry Valley Project, preserving client’s rights to use imported return flow water. 

Sanpete America, LLC v. Willardsen, 2011 UT 48, 269 P.3d 118:
Successfully defended breach of warranty claims against seller who conveyed a water right under a warranty deed.  

Haik v. Sandy City, 2011 UT 26, 254 P.3d 171:
Holder of a recorded deed for water rights had superior title to holder of a prior contract for the same rights, but who subsequently recorded deed.

Nickerson Co. v. Energy West Mining Co., 2009 UT App 366:
Court upheld summary judgment concerning unjust enrichment and related claims in light of express agreement.

Loafer Rim Properties, L.C., v. United States, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52651 (D. Utah 2009):
Case involved jurisdictional test under the Quiet Title Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2409a, and whether a court must convert a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss into a 12(b)(6) motion or a Rule 56 summary judgment motion when a question of jurisdiction is intertwined with the merits of the case.

Cameron Financial Group v. Midtowne Mortgage, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34707 (D. Utah 2008).

Western Water, LLC v. Olds, 2008 UT 18, 184 P.3d 578:
Affirming summary judgment concerning applications to appropriate in the Utah Lake/Jordan River drainage based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

d’Elia v. Rice Development Inc., 2006 UT App 416, 147 P.3d 515:
Affirming trial court concerning alter ego claims against principal of corporation and limited liability company, reversing on other issues

Wayment v. Howard, 2006 UT 56, 144 P.3d 1147:  
Court affirmed trial judgment in favor of client landowners on their claims of interference with water rights and against appellant’s counterclaims of trespass, negligence and nuisance.

Searle v. Milburn Irr. Co., 2006 UT 16, 133 P.3d 382:  
Court determined the applicable standard of review for a district court's rejection of a water change application when the ground for that rejection is the probability that vested water rights will be impaired.  Moreover, given the importance of water in Utah, there is a strong public policy interest in promoting consistent and predictable results in disputes over the permissible use of that water. Therefore, the court determined it is appropriate that district court discretion be somewhat constrained in this area. Consequently, district courts enjoy significant, but not broad, discretion when determining whether evidence of impairment is sufficiently compelling to foreclose water use change application approval.

High Valley Water Co. v. Silver Creek Investors, 2006 UT App 90:  
Affirmed trial court’s ruling that an option allowing appellant investors to purchase certain water rights was no longer enforceable by virtue of the statute of limitations for breach of written contract claims.  

Bradshaw v. Wilkinson Water Co., 2004 UT 38, 94 P.3d 242:
Affirming decision by the Utah Public Service Commission concerning developer’s obligation for a proportionate share of the costs of constructing a water plant necessary for client water company to supply water to a proposed subdivision

WebBank v. American General Annuity Service Corporation, 2002 UT 88, 54 P.3d 1139:
Action involving a financial transaction centered on a structured settlement agreement.

Sunrise Financial Inc. v. Painewebber, Inc., 4 F.Supp.2d 1035 (D. Utah 1998), (partially vacated on other grounds, 164 F. Supp. 2d 1277):  
Case involved the defense of in pari delicto - rooted in the common-law notion that a plaintiff's recovery may be barred by his own wrongful conduct.  

Winters v. Schulman, 2001 UT App 105:
Affirming trial court ruling that appellant suffered no actual losses from wrongful lis pendens.

Crank v. State Judicial Council, 2001 UT 8, 20 P.3d 307:  
Successfully defended judges of the Seventh District and the Utah Judicial Council against allegations of bias concerning jury selection.  

Longley v. Leucadia Financial Corporation, 2000 UT 69:
Case involved statute requiring both public notice of a hearing on requests for extensions of time and information to the public of the diligence claimed and the reason for the request.

Murdock v. Springville Municipal Corporation, 1999 UT 39:  
The second opinion of the Court regarding Springville City water claims in the Utah Lake/Jordan River general adjudication.

Mutual Mortgage Services v. Stovall, 1999 UT App 97:
Affirming trial court decision on collateral estoppel (issue preclusion) that barred relitigation of facts established in previous action.

Myers v. Third District Court, 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 16076 (10th Cir. 1998):
Affirming Utah district court’s grant of a preliminary injunction in favor of client.

LDL Research & Development II v. Commissioner, 124 F.3d 1338 (10th Cir. 1997):
The Tenth Circuit affirmed IRS Commissioner's ruling disallowing taxpayer’s deductions for research and development costs.

Badger v. Brooklyn Canal Co., 966 P.2d 844 (Utah 1996):
The formation of an irrigation company constitutes a contract between the shareholders for the pooling and distribution of water. As such, the court determined the statutory authority of the state engineer does not extend to the resolution of disputes between shareholders and their corporations regarding the distribution of their shares.

Bottomly v. Leucadia National Corp., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14760 (D. Utah 1996):
Case involved a motion to quash subpoenas issued on behalf of defendants for the purpose of compelling reporters to give a deposition about information they may have received from attorneys for plaintiff and intervenor Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attorneys

Murphy v. Crosland, 915 P.2d 491 (Utah 1996):
Court addressed whether section under the former Business Corporation Act imposed liability on corporate officers for corporate obligations incurred while the corporation was operating under suspended status.

Diston v. EnviroPak Medical Products, 893 P.2d 1071 (Utah App. 1995):
Court examined the requirement that a contract be sufficiently definite and determined it is a functional requirement from the parties' perspective in terms of whether it can be performed, and from the courts' perspective in terms of whether it can be enforced.

Murdock v. Springville Municipal Corp., 878 P.2d 1147 (Utah 1994):  
The first opinion of the Court regarding city water claims in the Utah Lake/Jordan River general adjudication.  The Utah Code provides for the general adjudication of the rights of various claimants to the waters of a particular stream or water source.  Recognizing that there may be some disputes involving the water rights of fewer than all of the parties in a water basin, it specifically authorizes a court to hear and determine a dispute of the parties as part of a general adjudication suit.

McEwen v. Digitran Systems, 160 F.R.D. 631 (D. Utah 1994):
Class action certification case

East Jordan Irrigation Company v. Morgan, 860 P.2d 310 (Utah 1993):  
Case supports the concept that a shareholder does not have the right to file a change application without corporate consent because a mutual water company is the owner of record of the collective rights of its shareholders.  

Provo River Water Users Association v. Morgan, 857 P.2d 927 (Utah 1993):  
Court determined 1937 decree was not intended to adjudicate the rights to all waters in the geographic portion of the Weber River drainage described in the decree.  Rather, it was intended primarily to adjudicate water rights to the Weber River and its surface tributaries. Therefore, the court held the decree could not be interpreted to bar diligence claims to isolated springs in the Weber River drainage area.  

Jensen v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 1993-393:  
Successfully established client’s theft loss deduction.

In re San Rafael River Drainage Area, 844 P.2d 287 (Utah 1992):  
Court affirmed the trial court order dismissing a property owner’s actions that challenged denial of his water user's claim because it determined that the property owner was given proper notice of the state engineer’s determination of water rights and he failed to file a timely protest.

Bonham v. Morgan, 788 P.2d 497 (Utah 1989):
In the case of an application for a permanent change as compared to a temporary change, the court determined the procedure should be the same as is provided for in applications to appropriate water.

 

An Overview of Utah Water Rights Law - Jon Schutz

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