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Roosevelt Irrigation District v. United States

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 24, 2018

Roosevelt Irrigation District, Plaintiff,
United States of America, et al., Defendants. Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, et al., Counter-Claimants/ Cross-Claimants,
Roosevelt Irrigation District, Counter-Defendant. and United States of America; Department, et al. Cross-Defendants.


          Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge

         At issue are the following Motions: (1) Defendants and Counterclaimants Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (“the District”) and Salt River Valley Water Users' Association's (“the Association”) (collectively “SRP”)[1]

         Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 312, SRP MSJ), to which Plaintiff and Counterdefendant Roosevelt Irrigation District (“RID”) filed a Response (Doc. 324, RID Resp.), and SRP filed a Reply (Doc. 334, SRP Reply); and (2) RID's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 314, RID MSJ), to which SRP filed a Response (Doc. 323, SRP Resp.), and RID filed a Reply (Doc. 332, RID Reply). The Court additionally will resolve SRP's Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Scott Snyder (Doc. 268).

         Although the parties requested oral argument on the Motions for Summary Judgment, the Court finds the matters appropriate for resolution without such argument. See LRCiv 7.2(f). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant in part and deny in part each Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Again, the Court is tasked with determining the rights and obligations of RID and SRP under the parties' 1921 Contract, as amended in 1927 and 1950 (collectively, the “Contract”), and as ratified by Congress. The parties each previously moved for partial summary judgment on portions of RID's Complaint and SRP's Counterclaim. (See Docs. 108, 170.) On September 30, 2017, the Court issued a ruling on those Motions, denying SRP's Motion for Summary Judgment and granting in part RID's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 293, Sept. 30, 2017 Order.) In that Order, the Court granted RID summary judgment on Count I of SRP's Counterclaim, determining that the Contracts, as a matter of law, are not contracts entered into pursuant to the Warren Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 523-25. (Sept. 30, 2017 Order at 14-19.)

         At that time, the Court detailed the history of the Salt River Project, the contracts between the Association and the United States, and those circumstances that led the Association to enter into its original 1920 Agreement with Carrick and Mangham (“C&M”)-RID's predecessor in interest. (Sept. 30, 2017 Order at 4-6.) The Court further discussed at length the terms of the 1921 Contract, the 1927 Amendments, the 1950 Amendments, and the passage of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Water Rights Settlement Act. (Sept. 30, 2017 Order at 6-8.) The Court finds no further occasion to recount the facts here, and will discuss only additional facts as necessary.

         During the pendency of the parties' earlier Motions, each party requested leave of the Court to file an additional motion for summary judgment, (Docs. 269, 273), and the Court granted those requests, (Doc. 311). Now, RID moves for partial summary judgment on its Complaint, in addition to Counts III, IV, V, and VI of SRP's Counterclaim. Similarly, SRP moves for partial summary judgment on RID's Complaint, in addition to Counts IV and VI of its Counterclaim.


         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate when: (1) the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact; and (2) after viewing the evidence most favorably to the non-moving party, the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987). Under this standard, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing [substantive] law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A “genuine issue” of material fact arises only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must regard as true the non-moving party's evidence, if it is supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Eisenberg, 815 F.2d at 1289. However, the non-moving party may not merely rest on its pleadings; it must produce some significant probative evidence tending to contradict the moving party's allegations, thereby creating a material question of fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57 (holding that the plaintiff must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment); First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968).

         “A summary judgment motion cannot be defeated by relying solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by factual data.” Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). “Summary judgment must be entered ‘against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'” United States v. Carter, 906 F.2d 1375, 1376 (9th Cir. 1990) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Both SRP and RID move for partial summary judgment as to RID's Complaint and as to Counts IV and VI of SRP's Counterclaim. Additionally, RID moves for partial summary judgment as to Count III of SRP's Counterclaim and for summary judgment as to Count V. The Court will address the Motions as they pertain to RID's Complaint first, before moving to those arguments pertaining to SRP's Counterclaims.

         A. RID's Complaint

         In its Complaint, RID requests a declaratory judgment “that pursuant to A.R.S. § 45-494, RID's right to pump groundwater from its East Side Wells and to transport that water for use within the District is not terminated on or after October 26, 2020.” (Compl. at 14.) Both RID and SRP now move for summary judgment on this aspect of RID's Complaint. (SRP MSJ at 3-15; RID MSJ at 1-3.)

         The Groundwater Management Act of 1980 (“the Act”), as codified at Arizona State Revised Statute Section 45-401 et seq., provides in relevant part that:

in an initial active management area established pursuant to § 45-411 . . . [a]n irrigation district existing and engaged in the withdrawal, delivery and distribution of ground water as of January 1, 1977 shall have the right, subject to § 45-496 and § 45-493, subsection D: . . . [i]f legally withdrawing and transporting groundwater from outside its service area for use within its service area as of January 1, 1977, to continue to withdraw and transport the amount of groundwater legally being withdrawn as of January 1, 1977.

A.R.S. § 45-494(1)(b).

         No Court has previously interpreted this particular statutory provision of the Act, presenting an issue of first impression for this Court. Under Arizona law, a court's “primary goal in interpreting statutes is to effectuate the legislature's intent.” Rasor v. Nw. Hosp., LLC, 403 P.3d 572, 576 (Ariz. 2017). “If the statute is subject to only one reasonable interpretation, ” a court should apply that interpretation “without further analysis.” Glazer v. State, 347 P.3d 1141, 1143 (Ariz. 2015). Courts do not read statutes in isolation, but rather analyze each portion of a statute “in context [to determine] their meaning.” Stambaugh v. Killian, 398 P.3d 574, 575 (Ariz. 2017). Thus, a court should “look to the statute as a whole and . . . may also consider statutes that are in pari materia-of the same subject or general purpose-for guidance and to give effect to all of the provisions involved.” Id.

         RID's argument, in both its Motion and its Response to SRP's own Motion, can be distilled simply to one point: “right means right.” (See RID MSJ at 2-3; RID Resp. at 7- 10.) RID argues that because Section 45-494(1)(b) uses the term “right, ” the Act bestows upon RID a perpetual and inalienable entitlement to withdraw water, without regard to any other limitation or obligation that RID may have bargained for prior to its enactment., RID would have the Court ...

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