Injunctions and other remedies in water right proceedings
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Injunctions and other Remedies in Water Right Proceedings. Professor Cynthia Ford The University of Montana School of Law October 02, 2009. Jurisdiction Over Water Rights in Montana.

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Injunctions and other remedies in water right proceedings

Injunctions and other Remedies in Water Right Proceedings

Professor Cynthia Ford

The University of Montana School of Law

October 02, 2009


Jurisdiction over water rights in montana

Jurisdiction Over Water Rights in Montana

  • The Montana Water Court has exclusive jurisdiction over the final determination of "existing water rights" (i.e. water right claims with Pre-July 1, 1973, priority dates). See § 85- 2-215, MCA.

  • The District Courts have jurisdiction over water distribution controversies and "may grant injunctive or other relief necessary and appropriate to preserve property rights or the status quo pending issuance of the final decree." The District Court also has jurisdiction over ditch easement conflicts. See § 70-17-112, MCA.


Deadman s basin 2002

Deadman’s Basin (2002)

  • “The jurisdiction to interpret and determine existing water rights rests exclusively with the water courts…District courts are granted the authority to supervise the distribution of water that has already been adjudicated and to enforce such water decrees.”


Mt water rights enforcement statutes

MT Water Rights Enforcement Statutes

MCA § 85-2-114. Judicial enforcement.

MCA § 85-2-309. Hearings on objections -- jurisdiction.


Procedure for enforcement under 85 2 114

Procedure for Enforcement under 85-2-114

  • Department may petition for court order to cease-and-desist or for TRO, or preliminary or permanent injunction

  • TRO requirements substantially relaxed

  • County Attorney, AG also authorized to seek relief even without request by department


Mca 85 2 114 judicial enforcement

MCA § 85-2-114. Judicial enforcement

(1) If the department ascertains, by a means reasonably considered sufficient by it, that a person is wasting water, using water unlawfully, preventing water from moving to another person having a prior right to use the water, or violating a provision of this chapter, it may petition the district court supervising the distribution of water among appropriators from the source to: (c) issue a temporary, preliminary, or permanent injunction to prevent a violation of this chapter. Notwithstanding the provisions of Title 27, chapter 19, part 3, a temporary restraining order must be granted if it clearly appears from the specific facts shown by affidavit or by the verified complaint that a provision of this chapter is being violated.


No private right for penalties fees under 85 2 114

No Private right for Penalties, Fees Under 85-2-114

  • Faust v. Utility Solutions, 2007

    • No private right of action for civil penalties under Water Use Act

    • No private right for attorneys’ fees

    • Undecided if private right to injunctive relief under Water Use Act


Injunctions v declaratory judgments

Injunctions v. Declaratory Judgments

  • Injunctions

    • Direct Order of Court

    • Disobedience is contempt: jail, fine, both

    • Irreparable Injury Rule

  • Declaratory Judgment

    • Declares respective rights

    • No contempt

    • Convert to Injunction


Irreparable injury rule

Irreparable Injury Rule

  • Applies to equitable remedies, injunctions

  • No equitable relief where adequate remedy exists at law

  • Same as: irreparable injury necessary

  • Water loss is irreparable injury

  • Hence, relaxation of rule in this context


Injunctions

Injunctions

  • MCA § 27-19-101. Definition of injunction -- by whom granted.

    An injunction is an order requiring a person to refrain from a particular act. The order may be granted by the court in which the action is brought or by a judge thereof and, when made by a judge, be enforced as the order of the court.


Injunctions in general

Injunctions in General

Injunctions may be affirmative: “Defendant must …”

Injunctions may be negative: “Defendant must not…”

Equitable, so no right to jury trial

Court should issue

Findings of Fact

Conclusions of Law

Order/Judgment


Types of injunctions tros

Types of Injunctions:TROs

  • MCA § 27-19-314. Temporary restraining order. Where an application for an injunction is made upon notice or an order to show cause, either before or after answer, the court or judge may enjoin the adverse party, until the hearing and decision of the application, by an order which is called a temporary restraining order.


Types of injunctions tros1

Types of Injunctions:TROs

  • Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

    • Emergency

    • Limited temporally

    • Usually very hard to get, lack of information

    • BUT SEE MCA 85-2-114: “Notwithstanding the provisions of Title 27, chapter 19, part 3, a temporary restraining order must be granted if it clearly appears from the specific facts shown by affidavit or by the verified complaint that a provision of this chapter is being violated.”


Eliason v evans 1978

Eliason v. Evans (1978)

It is well settled that a temporary restraining order is an interlocutory order issued often on an ex parte basis. The restraining order is intended to preserve the status quo until a show cause hearing can be held. A temporary restraining order is effective only for the reasonable time necessary to give notice and schedule a hearing to determine the appropriateness of an injunction pendente lite.


Injunctions and other remedies in water right proceedings

It is well established that substantive property rights cannot be adjudicated in a summary way. …In the same vein, water rights should not be resolved in a preliminary proceeding for injunctive relief.The problems inherent in trying the merits of a case at an injunctive hearing are obvious. Typically, an injunction, or a motion for an injunction is filed very early in the proceedings, usually before discovery has been completed and often before the pleadings of the parties are complete. At such juncture, the District Courts normally do not have sufficient evidence to conclusively resolve the merits of the case.


Tro without notice

TRO without notice

  • 27-19-316. Contents and filing of restraining order granted without notice.

  • Each temporary restraining order granted without notice must:

  • be endorsed with the date and hour of its issuance

  • be filed immediately in the clerk's office and entered in the record;

  • define the injury and state why the injury is irreparable and why the order was granted without notice; and

  • … expire by its terms within the time after entry, not to exceed 10 days, as the court or judge fixes.


Preliminary injunctions

Preliminary Injunctions

  • Also before trial

  • Longer than TRO

  • Bridge gap between TRO and trial

  • More information to court via hearing, evidence from both sides

  • Evidence from TRO and preliminary injunction hearings need not be repeated at trial


Mca 27 19 201 when preliminary injunction

MCA 27-19-201 When preliminary injunction…

An injunction order may be granted in the following cases:

(1) when it appears that the applicant is entitled to the relief demanded and the relief or any part of the relief consists in restraining the commission or continuance of the act complained of;


Injunctions and other remedies in water right proceedings

(2) when it appears that the commission or continuance of some act during the litigation would produce a great or irreparable injury to the applicant;

(3) when it appears during the litigation that the adverse party is doing or threatens or is about to do or is procuring or suffering to be done some act in violation of the applicant's rights, respecting the subject of the action, and tending to render the judgment ineffectual;


Injunctions and other remedies in water right proceedings

(4) when it appears that the adverse party, during the pendency of the action, threatens or is about to remove or to dispose of the adverse party's property with intent to defraud the applicant, an injunction order may be granted to restrain the removal or disposition;


Preliminary injunction tro procedure

Preliminary Injunction/TRO Procedure

  • Open case with complaint

  • Motion for TRO or Preliminary Injunction

  • Affidavit(s) in Support of Motion (Facts)

  • Brief in Support of Motion (Law)

  • Notice of Hearing

  • Proposed Findings, Conclusion, Order

  • Bond


Permanent injunctions

Permanent Injunctions

  • Issued after trial

  • May be limited or infinite in time

  • “Permanent” means the court has issued its final ruling

  • Easier to get than TRO or preliminary injunction

  • “Irreparable Injury” rule

    Satisfied by statute, water irreplaceable


Mt water rights cases decided by the montana supreme court 1999 2009

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Clinch, 297 Mont. 448 (12/30/99)

Espy v. Quinlan, 2000 MT 193 (07/18/00)

Ryan v. Harrison & Harrison Farms L.L.L.P., 2001 MT 128N (07/24/01)

In re Deadman's Basin Water Users Ass'n, 2002 MT 15 (01/29/02)

Williams v. Schwager, 2002 MT 107 (05/23/02

In re Adjudication of the Existing Rights to the Use of All the Water, 2002 MT 216 (09/24/02)

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Stults, 2002 MT 280 (12/06/02)

Sitz Angus v. Dallaserra, 2002 MT 295N (12/12/02)

Graveley Simmental Ranch Co. v. Quigley, 2003 MT 34 (02/26/03)

Shammel v. Canyon Resources Corp., 2003 MT 372 (12/24/03)

Hidden Hollow Ranch v. Fields, 2004 MT 153 (06/15/04)

Mountain Water Company v. MT Dept. of Public Service Regulation, 2005 MT 84 (04/05/05)

Montana Trout Unlimited v. Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation, 2006 MT 72 (04/11/06)

Mustang Holdings, LLC v. Zaveta, 2006 MT 234 (09/19/06)

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Clinch, 2007 MT 63 (03/12/2007)

Wills Cattle Co. v. Shaw, 2007 MT 191 (08/07/07)

Faust v. Utility Solutions, LLC, 2007 MT 326 (12/11/07)

Eastgate Village Water and Sewer Ass'n v. Davis, 2008 MT 141 (04/22/08)

Bostwick Properties, Inc. v. Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation, 2009 MT 181 (05/21/09)

MT Water Rights Cases Decided by the Montana Supreme Court (1999-2009)


Montana water rights cases temporary restraining orders

Montana Water Rights Cases: Temporary Restraining Orders

  • TRO sought: 3

    • Espy v. Quinlan, 2000 MT 193

    • In re Deadman's Basin Water Users Ass'n, 2002 MT 15

    • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Clinch, 2007 MT 63

  • TRO granted by District Court: 2/3

    • Espy

    • Clinch

  • TRO denied by District Court: 1/3

    • Deadman's


Montana water rights cases temporary restraining orders1

Montana Water Rights Cases: Temporary Restraining Orders

  • TRO decision affirmed by MTSC: 1/3

    • Espy

  • TRO decision reversed by MTSC: 2/3

    • Deadman’s

    • Clinch

  • TRO granted when lower court denied: 1/3

    • Deadman’s

  • TRO denied when lower court granted: 1/3

    • Clinch


Temporary restraining orders conclusions

Temporary Restraining Orders - Conclusions

District Court is likely to grant temporary restraining orders:

  • when a pooling agreement for construction of the irrigation system created an easement for repair and maintenance and the cost-sharing agreement did not limit the duration of the easement. (Espy)

  • when the DNRC can not determine whether the applicants' proposed change would adversely affect the use of the Tribes' rights in the absence of a quantification of the Tribes' reserved rights. (Clinch-2007)


Temporary restraining orders conclusions1

Temporary Restraining Orders - Conclusions

SUPREME COURT is likely to affirm:

when a pooling agreement for construction of the irrigation system created an easement for repair and maintenance and the cost-sharing agreement did not limit the duration of the easement. (Espy)

MTSC is unlikely to affirm:

when the District Court exceeds its authority and “fills in” a water decree with further delineation and a water purchase contract precluded district court from requiring irrigator to forfeit the remainder of his entitlement during water shortfall. (Deadman’s)

because State appropriative water rights are based on actual use and are governed by state law; Indian reserved water rights are established by reference to the purposes of the reservation, rather than to actual, present use of the water, and the basis for an Indian reserved water right is the treaty, federal statute, or executive order setting aside the reservation. (Clinch-2007)


Montana water rights cases preliminary injunctions

Montana Water Rights Cases: Preliminary Injunctions

  • Preliminary injunction sought: 5

    • Espy v. Quinlan, 2000 MT 193

    • In re Deadman's Basin Water Users Ass'n, 2002 MT 15

    • Graveley Simmental Ranch Co. v. Quigley, 2003 MT 34

    • Mustang Holdings, LLC v. Zaveta, 2006 MT 234

    • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Clinch, 2007 MT 63

    • Preliminary injunction granted by District Court: 4/5

    • Espy

    • Graveley

    • Mustang

    • Clinch (2007)

  • Preliminary injunction denied by District Court: 1/5

    • Deadman’s


Montana water rights cases preliminary injunctions1

Montana Water Rights Cases: Preliminary Injunctions

  • Preliminary injunction decision affirmed by MTSC: 2/5

    • Espy

    • Graveley

  • Preliminary injunction decision reversed by MTSC: 3/5

    • Deadman’s

    • Mustang

    • Clinch (2007)

  • Preliminary injunction granted when lower court denied: 1/5

    • Deadman’s

  • Preliminary injunction denied when lower court granted: 2/5

    • Mustang

    • Clinch (2007)


Preliminary injunctions conclusions

Preliminary Injunctions - Conclusions

District Court is likely to grant preliminary injunctions:

  • when a pooling agreement for construction of the irrigation system created an easement for repair and maintenance and the cost-sharing agreement did not limit the duration of the easement. (Espy)

  • when a party destroys a ditch at issue without leave of the court in violation of MCA § 70-17-112. (Mustang)

  • when the DNRC can not determine whether the applicants' proposed change would adversely affect the use of the Tribes' rights in the absence of a quantification of the Tribes' reserved rights. (Clinch-2007)


Preliminary injunctions conclusions1

Preliminary Injunctions - Conclusions

MTSC is likely to affirm:

when a pooling agreement for construction of the irrigation system created an easement for repair and maintenance and the cost-sharing agreement did not limit the duration of the easement. (Espy)

MTSC is unlikely to affirm:

there is no reasonable probability that past acts complained of will recur; where the entire injury is in the past, an injunction cannot issue. Injunction power is not used as punishment for past acts and is ordered against them only if there is evidence they will probably recur. (Mustang)

because State appropriative water rights are based on actual use and are governed by state law; Indian reserved water rights are established by reference to the purposes of the reservation, rather than to actual, present use of the water, and the basis for an Indian reserved water right is the treaty, federal statute, or executive order setting aside the reservation. (Clinch-2007)


Preliminary injunctions conclusions2

Preliminary Injunctions - Conclusions

District Court is unlikely to grant preliminary injunctions:

when it exceeds its authority and makes a priority determination regarding domestic and irrigation water consumption based on its own inclinations. (Deadman’s)

MTSC is unlikely to affirm:

when the District Court exceeds its authority and “fills in” a water decree with further delineation and a water purchase contract precluded district court from requiring irrigator to forfeit the remainder of his entitlement during water shortfall. (Deadman’s)


Montana water rights cases permanent injunctions

Montana Water Rights Cases: Permanent Injunctions

  • Permanent injunction sought: 6

    • Williams v. Schwager, 2002 MT 107

    • Sitz Angus v. Dallaserra, 2002 MT 295N

    • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Clinch, 2007 MT 63

    • Wills Cattle Co. v. Shaw, 2007 MT 191

    • Faust v. Utility Solutions, LLC, 2007 MT 326

    • Eastgate Village Water and Sewer Ass'n v. Davis, 2008 MT 141

  • Permanent injunction granted by District Court: 5/6

    • Williams

    • Sitz

    • Clinch

    • Wills

    • Eastgate

  • Permanent injunction denied by District Court: 1/6

    • Faust


Montana water rights cases permanent injunctions1

Montana Water Rights Cases: Permanent Injunctions

  • Permanent injunction decision affirmed by MTSC: 5/6

    • Williams

    • Sitz

    • Wills

    • Faust

    • Eastgate

  • Permanent injunction decision reversed by MTSC: 1/6

    • Clinch

  • Permanent injunction granted when lower court denied: 0/6

  • Permanent injunction denied when lower court granted: 1/6

    • Clinch


Permanent injunctions conclusions

Permanent Injunctions - Conclusions

District Court is likely to grant permanent injunctions when:

  • a water system constituted neither a private nor public nuisance and that the agreement was valid and enforceable. (Williams)

  • when the ownership of storage water and access to it for the purpose of adjusting the amount of water released is in dispute by parties and one party blocks the other party’s access to the water flow control, but the parties present no question of fact regarding ownership of such water rights based upon previous use and conveyances. (Sitz)

  • when the DNRC can not determine whether the applicants' proposed change would adversely affect the use of the Tribes' rights in the absence of a quantification of the Tribes' reserved rights. (Clinch-2007)

  • if deeds are ambiguous and do not contain maps or any other specific identification of the number or location of the ditches used with the water rights conveyed by the deeds, the best interpretation of the deed language is that the parties to the deeds only intended to convey an interest in those ditches that actually historically conveyed water to the respective ranches. (Wills)

  • a water and sewer association has the power to forbid privately operated irrigation wells located within Eastgate that are not connected to the Association's water system, and that the Board's rule prohibiting such wells was reasonable in light of the Association's duty to promote the health, safety, and welfare of Eastgate residents by preserving Eastgate's water supply. (Eastgate)


Permanent injunctions conclusions1

Permanent Injunctions - Conclusions

MTSC is likely to affirm:

because a shared water well agreement is not illegal per se, as according to the FCHD, when the parties may still obtain approval for the use of such a well even where the Subdivision Certificate calls for individual wells and a party could not repudiate agreement to share water well, where neighbors accepted the benefit of the agreement in the form of water fees, and initiated an action in county justice court to increase the water fee under the agreement. (Williams)

with a finding that defendant's control of distribution system of reservoir had deprived and was depriving plaintiff the full use of its one-third interest in water from a spring. (Sitz)

deeds conveying water rights and ditches were ambiguous, and evidence was sufficient to support finding that grant of water rights and appurtenant ditches did not include the destroyed ditches.(Wills)

the board of directors for private nonprofit water and sewer association for residential subdivision had authority, under association's bylaws and articles of incorporation, to forbid privately-operated irrigation wells in subdivision, even if those wells were not connected to public water system operated by association, and rule adopted by association's board, forbidding privately-operated irrigation wells, was reasonable. (Eastgate)


Permanent injunctions conclusions2

Permanent Injunctions - Conclusions

MTSC is unlikely to affirm:

because State appropriative water rights are based on actual use and are governed by state law; Indian reserved water rights are established by reference to the purposes of the reservation, rather than to actual, present use of the water, and the basis for an Indian reserved water right is the treaty, federal statute, or executive order setting aside the reservation. (Clinch-2007)


Permanent injunctions conclusions3

Permanent Injunctions - Conclusions

District Court is unlikely to grant permanent injunctions:

Private plaintiffs lack standing to enforce the Montana Water Use Act via civil penalties and fees (failed to decide whether there is a private action for injunction under the Act). (Faust)

MTSC is likely to affirm:

The claim for injunction is moot because the DNRC issued final permits which ended the defendant’s violation of the Act which was the cause of the desire for an injunction. (Faust)


Attorneys fees in water litigation

Attorneys’ Fees in Water Litigation

MCA § 85-2-125. Recovery of costs and attorney fees by prevailing party

  • (1) If a final decision of the department on an application for a permit is appealed to district court, the district court shall award the prevailing party reasonable costs and attorney fees.

  • (2) The party obtaining injunctive relief in an action to enforce a water right must be awarded reasonable costs and attorney fees. For the purposes of this section, "enforce a water right" means an action by a party with a water right to enjoin the use of water by a person that does not have a water right.


Attorneys fees available under 70 17 112

Attorneys’ Fees Available Under 70-17-112.

  • (1) A person with a canal or ditch easement has a secondary easement to enter, inspect, repair, and maintain a canal or ditch.(2) No person may encroach upon or otherwise impair any easement for a canal or ditch…

  • (5) If a legal action is brought to enforce the provisions of this section, the prevailing party is entitled to costs and reasonable attorney's fees.


Attorneys fees awarded to prevailing party

Attorneys’ Fees awarded to prevailing party

Awarded in Ditch Litigation:

  • a party must successfully prevail on all claims raised pursuant to MCA §70-17-112 in order to be a prevailing party entitled to attorney’s fees under MCA § 70-17-112(5)

    • Property owner, which prevailed in action alleging interference with its easement rights in reservoir, attendant ditch, distribution system, and interference of its secondary easements to access the interests, was entitled to attorney fees and costs. (Sitz)

    • Because plaintiff successfully prevailed on all claims raised pursuant to MCA § 70-17-112, he is entitled to his attorney's fees and costs pursuant to MCA § 70-17-112(5), regardless of the fact that he was not the prevailing party on defendant's counterclaim. (Espy)

    • Graveley's encroachment claim is the only claim he brought pursuant to this statute. He prevailed on that claim. The District Court therefore correctly granted him attorney's fees. (Graveley)


Attorneys fees awarded to prevailing party1

Attorneys’ Fees awarded to prevailing party

Other:

  • No Injunction for Ground Water Pumping Violation When Water Use Permit Granted -- Request for Attorney Fees Moot (Faust)


Confederated salish and kootenai tribes v clinch 297 mont 448 12 30 99

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Clinch, 297 Mont. 448 (12/30/99)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Water use permits could not be issued on the reservation until the Tribes' reserved water rights had been quantified based per MCA § 85-2-311(1)(e), the legislature passed and the governor signed, S.B. 97 which amended this relevant provision for the specific purpose of allowing the Department to issue water use permits prior to the quantification of the Tribes' reserved water rights. The enactment of S.B. 97 violates Article IX § 3(1) of the Montana Constitution which protects existing water rights, and prior decisions of this Court discussing the pervasive nature of the Tribes' water rights on the reservation.


Confederated salish and kootenai tribes v clinch 297 mont 448 12 30 991

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Clinch, 297 Mont. 448 (12/30/99)

  • Prevailing Party: PLAINTIFF

  • Remedy of the Court: DNRC was enjoined from issuing water use permits on Indian reservation until water rights of tribes had been quantified.

  • Supreme Court Holding: Affirmed injunction: The DNRC could not determine whether water is legally available on the Flathead Indian Reservation until the Tribe's rights are quantified by compact negotiation pursuant to MCA § 85-2-702, or by a general inter sese water rights adjudication. Accordingly, we order that the Department not issue further water use permits on the Flathead Reservation until the Tribes' rights have been quantified.


Espy v quinlan 2000 mt 193 07 18 00

Espy v. Quinlan, 2000 MT 193 (07/18/00)

  • Claim: Plaintiff alleged the Defendants interfered with his ditch easement; Defendants alleged plaintiff interfered with their road easement.

  • Prevailing Party: BOTH!

  • Remedy of the Court: EACH party obtained a permanent injunction restraining the other from interfering with the easements. The original plaintiff was awarded fees and costs.

  • Supreme Court Holding: Affirmed on all counts. The original plaintiff won on his ditch claim, and so was entitled to fees under 70-17-112. The defendant’s claim was for a road easement, which does not carry fees.


Ryan v harrison harrison farms l l l p 2001 mt 128n 07 24 01 noncitable

Ryan v. Harrison & Harrison Farms L.L.L.P., 2001 MT 128N (07/24/01)(noncitable)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: asked for declaratory judgment that he had a right to fish in Lois Lake. Later amended complaint to request injunction.

  • Trial Court: found plaintiff had no right to trespass across private property to obtain access to lake; issued injunction to defendant landowner prohibiting plaintiff from further trespass.

  • Supreme Court: Affirmed.


In re deadman s basin water users ass n 2002 mt 15 01 29 02

In re Deadman's Basin Water Users Ass'n, 2002 MT 15 (01/29/02)

Inception of case: District Court judge unilaterally issued order prohibiting irrigation from Deadman’s Basin. Plaintiff Micks did not believe the order applied to him, and continued irrigating. The Court held him in contempt.

Plaintiff’s Claim: Micks then moved for temporary restraining order the preliminary injunction prohibiting the water commissioners from interfering with Micks’ use of the water.

Trial Court: denied the motion

Supreme Court: reversed, found that the District Court had exceeded its authority when it made a priority determination regarding domestic and irrigation water consumption based on its own inclinations, rather than the plain language of the water purchase contract

HELD: Micks’ motion for tro and preliminary injunction should have been granted


Williams v schwager 2002 mt 107 05 23 02

Williams v. Schwager, 2002 MT 107 (05/23/02)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: The Plaintiffs sued their neighbors to obtain injunctive relief against interference with a water well that parties shared.

  • Prevailing Party: PLAINTIFF was awarded a permanent injunction prohibiting defendants from interfering with plaintiff’s water supply and affirmatively requiring defendants to participate in filing a joint application for continued use of the well

  • Supreme Court Holding: AFFIRMED. Agreement on shared water well was enforceable via injunction.


Confederated salish and kootenai tribes v stults 2002 mt 280 12 06 02

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Stults, 2002 MT 280 (12/06/02)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Invoking the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction, the CS&K Tribes filed petition for writ of supervisory control, seeking to enjoin DNRC from issuing a new water permit and to hold DNRC and its officials in contempt of court, relying on earlier Montana Supreme Court rulings. (Ciotti. Clinch, and the Order of May 31, 2001)

  • The Tribes further contended that as a sovereign nation they should not be required to defend their water rights in piecemeal proceedings before a hostile forum.


Confederated salish and kootenai tribes v stults 2002 mt 280 12 06 021

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes v. Stults, 2002 MT 280 (12/06/02)

  • Prevailing Party: PLAINTIFFS

  • Supreme Court Holding: The DNRC was ordered not to issue further water use permits on the Flathead Reservation until the Tribes' federally reserved water rights have been defined and quantified.

  • The Court declined to decide whether the DNRC was in contempt of court because of factual issues “better resolved by a District Court”


Sitz angus v dallaserra 2002 mt 295n 12 12 02 noncitable

Sitz Angus v. Dallaserra, 2002 MT 295N (12/12/02)(noncitable)

Plaintiff’s Claim: Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment determining that it owned a one-third interest in the direct flow from Blomquist Spring and that it additionally had a right to any of its water stored in Blomquist Reservoir. The plaintiff also sought damages and injunctive relief against the defendants for alleged interference with his primary and secondary ditch easements and his use of the water by locking the north headgate and blocking access across their land.

Prevailing Party: PLAINTIFF


Sitz angus v dallaserra 2002 mt 295n 12 12 02

Sitz Angus v. Dallaserra, 2002 MT 295N (12/12/02)

  • Trial Court : Permanently enjoined defendants from locking headgates, access gates and from interfering with distribution works and interfering with plaintiff’s right to its water, but denied attorneys’ fees

  • Supreme Court: Injunction proper; plaintiff entitled to attorney fees. Defendant's control of the distribution system had deprived and was depriving the plaintiff of the full use of its interest in water from a spring was sufficient to support injunctive relief.


Sitz angus v dallaserra 2002 mt 295n 12 12 021

Sitz Angus v. Dallaserra, 2002 MT 295N (12/12/02)

  • Reasoning of the Court:

  • “The District Court’s declaration that Sitz owns 1/3 and Dallaserras own 2/3 interest in Bloomquist Spring was not an adjudication of water rights, but merely a recognition that the parties presented no question of fat regarding ownership of such water rights based upon previous use and conveyances….Such adjudication of property rights is properly within the jurisdiction of the District Court”


Injunction procedure

Injunction Procedure

  • “While the findings of fact, conclusions of law and memorandum do not directly address the granting of injunctive relief to Sitz, the District Court included in the findings the ultimate fact that [defendants have] ‘deprived and is depriving Sitz’ the full use of its 1/3 interest in the water. This… is sufficient…”


Attorney fees mandatory

Attorney Fees Mandatory

  • Reversed failure to award attorney fees

  • “As Sitz successfully enforced 70-17-112(1), the District Court, pursuant to subsection (5), retained no discretion to deny costs and reasonable attorney fees.”


Shammel v canyon resources corp 2003 mt 372 12 24 03 huge injunction case

Shammel v. Canyon Resources Corp., 2003 MT 372 (12/24/03) HUGE INJUNCTION CASE!

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Plaintiff property owners brought tort action against neighboring mining company for alleged diminished water quality and quantity; original relief requested was monetary, compensatory and punitive damages.

  • When mining company announced August 6 auction of its Montana properties and mineral rights, plaintiffs moved for TRO and preliminary injunction to restrain mining company from dissipating proceeds of sale of any Montana assets.

  • Prevailing Party: PLAINTIFF


Shammel at trial court

Shammel at Trial Court

  • District Court Remedy: Judge Phillips

    • Granted TRO for 10 days, on August 5

      Issued Preliminary Injunction at hearing August 14

      Conducted second hearing on “balance of equities” October 1

      Maintained preliminary injunction

      Refused to order plaintiff to post undertaking


Shammel in supreme court

Shammel in Supreme Court

  • Appeal allowed from granting/denying preliminary injunction (not from TRO)

  • Standard of review clarified: “In light of the high degree of discretion vested in district courts to maintain the status quo through injunctive relief…the more deferential ‘manifest abuse of discretion’ is the appropriate standard for review”


Shammel cont d

Shammel, cont’d

  • MCA 27-19-201 governs preliminary injs

  • Plaintiff need meet only one of the subsections

  • Court found 2 and 3 met

  • “Very real possibility that should Shammels prevail at trial, they will have no recourse…render a judgment ineffectual and produce a great or irreparable injury to them


Mca 27 19 201 when preliminary injunction1

MCA 27-19-201 When preliminary injunction…

An injunction order may be granted in the following cases:

(1) when it appears that the applicant is entitled to the relief demanded and the relief or any part of the relief consists in restraining the commission or continuance of the act complained of;


Injunctions and other remedies in water right proceedings

**(2) when it appears that the commission or continuance of some act during the litigation would produce a great or irreparable injury to the applicant;

**(3) when it appears during the litigation that the adverse party is doing or threatens or is about to do or is procuring or suffering to be done some act in violation of the applicant's rights, respecting the subject of the action, and tending to render the judgment ineffectual;


Irreparable injury rule satisfied

Irreparable Injury Rule satisfied

“Generally, injunctive relief is not granted where an action for monetary damages will afford an adequate remedy.”

“The test to determine whether a preliminary injunction should issue when monetary judgment may be made ineffectual by the actions of the adverse party thereby irreparably injuring the applicant is:

  • likelihood that the movant will succeed on the merits,

    (2) likelihood that the movant will suffer irreparable injury absent the issuance of the injunction,

    (3) threatened injury to the movant outweighs whatever damage proposed injunction may cause opposing party, and

    (4) injunction, if issued, would not be adverse to the public interest. MCA § 27-19-201.


Findings conclusions sufficient

FINDINGS/CONCLUSIONS SUFFICIENT

  • M.R.Civ.P. 52(a): court must set forth the findings of fact and conclusions of law which constitute the grounds of its action in granting or refusing interlocutory injunctions

  • Litmus test: whether the order sets forth its reasoning in a manner sufficient to allow informed appellate review


Written undertaking unnecessary here

Written Undertaking Unnecessary Here

  • 27-19-306(2)(a): “if a party seeks an injunction or restraining order against an industrial operation or activity, the judge shall require a written undertaking to be filed by the applicant.”

  • Judge denied defense motion

  • Supreme Court affirmed


No industrial activity

No industrial activity

  • Court held that this injunction “does not restrain Canyon from engaging in an industrial operation or activity. Rather, it requires sequestration of sale proceeds.”

  • “Beyond that, the District Court has discretion whether an undertaking may be waived. 27-19-306(1)(b)…in the interest of justice”


Security generally

Security Generally

  • 27-19-306. Security for damages

  • (1) on granting an injunction or restraining order, the judge shall require a written undertaking to be given by the applicant for the payment of the costs and damages that may be incurred or suffered by any party who is found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained..


27 19 306 1

27-19-306(1)

  • Except as provided in subsection (2), the undertaking:

  • (a) must be fixed at a sum that the judge considers proper; and

  • (b) may be waived:

    • (i) in domestic disputes; or

    • (ii) in the interest of justice


Damages for wrongful injunction

Damages for Wrongful Injunction

  • (4) This section does not prohibit a person who is wrongfully enjoined from filing an action for any claim for relief otherwise available to that person in law or equity and does not limit the recovery that may be obtained in that action.


Hidden hollow ranch v fields 2004 mt 153 06 15 04

Hidden Hollow Ranch v. Fields, 2004 MT 153 (06/15/04)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Plaintiff, downstream appropriator, brought action against upstream appropriator, seeking to hold defendant in contempt for violating prior court decree concerning rights to divert water from creek. Plaintiff had first altered defendant’s diversion; defendant acted on advice of DNRC and installed sturdier diversion with bypass tube; plaintiff “manipulated” the new valve to get more water; defendant padlocked the valve; plaintiff sued (and lost)

  • Prevailing Party: DEFENDANT

  • Trial Court Remedy: Dismissed plaintiff’s petition; enjoined plaintiff from interfering with defendant’s diversion works; further enjoined Water Commissioner to ensure that plaintiff did not interfere with diversion or valve.


Mountain water company v mt dept of public service regulation 2005 mt 84 04 05 05

Mountain Water Company v. MT Dept. of Public Service Regulation, 2005 MT 84 (04/05/05)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Plaintiff, water utility, brought action against developer, Public Service Commission (PSC), Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Department of Public Service Regulation (DPSR) for declaratory judgment that it could cease providing water to developer's subdivisions.

  • Prevailing Party: DEFENDANT

  • Trial Court Remedy: No declaratory judgment and no injunctive relief to plaintiff; complaint dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies

  • Supreme Court Holding: Affirmed.


Mountain water company v mt dept of public service regulation 2005 mt 84 04 05 051

Mountain Water Company v. MT Dept. of Public Service Regulation, 2005 MT 84 (04/05/05)

  • Reasoning of the Court:

    • The District Court did not err when it dismissed MWC’s complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because MCW must first exhaust its administrative remedies and if dissatisfied, then it may seek judicial review.

    • The mere possibility that the PSC and the DEQ could render conflicting decisions did not justify bypassing the agencies and refusing to exhaust administrative remedies.


Montana trout unlimited v montana dept of natural resources and conservation 2006 mt 72 04 11 06

Montana Trout Unlimited v. Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation, 2006 MT 72 (04/11/06)

  • Prevailing Party: PLAINTIFF

  • Remedy of the Court: Reverse and remand District Court's decision to grant summary judgment to defendants

  • Supreme Court Holding:

    • futility exception to the exhaustion of administrative remedies doctrine relieved trout association from having to exhaust its administrative remedies before bringing action challenging DNRC's regulations, and

    • DNRC violated Basin Closure Law by failing to consider prestream capture of tributary groundwater when it issued regulations concerning groundwater permits in over-appropriated basins.


Mustang holdings llc v zaveta 2006 mt 234 09 19 06

Mustang Holdings, LLC v. Zaveta, 2006 MT 234 (09/19/06)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Plaintiff filed action for declaratory judgment that neighbor had no right to use irrigation ditch on landowner's property because neighbor's water rights had terminated. Before court ruled, plaintiff destroyed the ditch. Defendant asked for preliminary injunction requiring plaintiff to reconstruct the ditch.

  • Trial Court Remedy: District Court entered preliminary injunction requiring plaintiff to reconstruct the ditch

  • Supreme Court Holding: REVERSED. “’An injunction will not issue to restrain an act already committed. Injunction is not an appropriate remedy to procure relief for past injuries, it is to afford preventive relief only.’ Bouma v. Bynum Irrigation District (1961).”

  • “None of these sections [of the MCA] contemplates the issuance of an injunction to correct a wrong that has already been committed and completed.”


Maybe permanent injunction later

Maybe permanent injunction later

  • BUT: “in the event she prevails at the trial of the action for declaratory judgment, then she may present evidence as to the damages she has sustained as a result of the destruction of the ditch. The District Court would have the authority at this juncture to order Mustang to restore the ditch and if indicated permanently enjoin Mustang from further interference with Zaveta’s easement rights.


Wills cattle co v shaw 2007 mt 191 08 07 07

Wills Cattle Co. v. Shaw, 2007 MT 191 (08/07/07)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: The plaintiffs argued that the defendants failed to recognize that the parties held an undivided joint interest in the ditches, and requested that the court declare the plaintiff’s interest. They argued that a 1964 deed clearly granted a one-half interest in all the McDonald ditches, plural, which included the north and middle ditches the defendants destroyed.

  • Prevailing Party: DEFENDANT

  • Trial Court Remedy: No declaratory judgment and no injunctive relief to plaintiff because court found no ditch right

  • Supreme Court Holding: Affirmed and remanded for determination of attorney fees on appeal: deeds conveying water rights and ditches were ambiguous, and evidence was sufficient to support finding that grant of water rights and appurtenant ditches did not include the destroyed ditches.


Faust v utility solutions llc 2007 mt 326 12 11 07

Faust v. Utility Solutions, LLC, 2007 MT 326 (12/11/07)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Plaintiff landowners brought suit for injunctive relief and attorney fees against water district and its contractor for pumping groundwater before the DNRC issued final permits. Plaintiff also requested civil penalties and attorney fees under the Water Use Act.

  • DNRC issued final permit before trial court ruled

  • District Court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing.

  • Supreme Court affirmed

    • No injunction because the violation was in the past, not ongoing

    • “DNRC’s issuance of the final groundwater appropriation permits renders moot the plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief”

    • No private right to civil penalties or attorney fees under Water Use Act


Eastgate village water and sewer ass n v davis 2008 mt 141 04 22 08

Eastgate Village Water and Sewer Ass'n v. Davis, 2008 MT 141 (04/22/08)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Plaintiff water association sought injunction to prevent landowner in private subdivision from digging and using a private irrigation well on his land.

  • Prevailing Party: PLAINTIFF

  • Trial Court Remedy:: Issued summary judgment for the plaintiff granting declaratory and injunctive relief; the court ordered the well owners to physically abandon the unauthorized well on their property and enjoined them from drilling any other wells.

  • Supreme Court Holding: Affirmed without much discussion of type of remedy.


Bostwick properties inc v montana dept of natural resources and conservation 2009 mt 181 05 21 09

Bostwick Properties, Inc. v. Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation, 2009 MT 181 (05/21/09)

  • Plaintiff’s Claim: Plaintiff applied for a permit to use water from an aquifer for a subdivision. After more than 180 days had elapsed, developer applied for a writ of mandamus directing the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to issue a permit under MCA § 85-2-310. District Court issued an order to show cause re: mandamus; DNRC then issued an opinion that plaintiff’s application was deficient.

  • Trial Court Remedy: District Court found that DNRC acted arbitrarily, and granted plaintiff a writ of mandamus requiring DNRC to issue the permit as well as attorney fees.

  • Supreme Court Holding: Reversed and remanded: mandamus was not an appropriate remedy. Because plaintiff did not prevail, no attorney fees either.


Bostwick properties inc v montana dept of natural resources and conservation 2009 mt 181 05 21 091

Bostwick Properties, Inc. v. Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation, 2009 MT 181 (05/21/09)

  • “The writ of mandate is a statutory remedy which permits a court to ‘compel the performance of an act that the law specially enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station or to compel the admission of a party to to the use and enjoyment of a right and office to which the party is entitled…”

  • MCA 27-2-106

  • Writ of Mandate only to compel ministerial, not discretionary, act

  • No writ of mandate to compel DNRC to act a particular way

  • Perhaps to issue some ruling, but not which ruling, because discretion involved

  • No writ of mandate to compel UNDOING an act: here, DNRC had already issued its opinion unfavorable to plaintiff


Thank you

THANK YOU!


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