COSTA MESA, Calif., December 16, 2013 – On November 25, 2013, the California Superior Court in north San Diego county ruled in favor of Rutan & Tucker client Rancho Pauma Mutual Water Company in the water rights case of Strub v. Palomar Mutual Water Company, San Diego Superior Court Case No. 162650.
The court’s ruling confirmed the continued vitality of the pumping restrictions contained in a 1953 Stipulated Judgment as applied to the Yuima Municipal Water District, the successor in interest to the original Defendant in the case, Palomar Mutual Water Company. The result of the decision is that Yuima remains restricted to pumping no more than1,350-acre-feet a year (AFY) from Pauma Valley groundwater, from no more than five wells. Yuima had sought to unilaterally increase its groundwater production to nearly 3,000 AFY from as many as eight different wells.
The decision is significant in that it confirms that the passage of time and the succession of property rights to different owners does not defeat the enforceability of prior judgments under a court’s continuing jurisdiction. Many water right judgments from around the state remain under the continuing jurisdiction of a state or federal court.
The Rutan team, led by Senior Counsel Jeremy N. Jungreis, successfully argued on behalf of successors in interest to the original Plaintiffs, that Yuima was violating Rancho Pauma’s water rights protected by the 1953 stipulated judgment, and that Yuima’s pumping in excess of the 1953 amounts was prohibited conduct. The court agreed, finding that Rancho Pauma had standing to enforce the terms of the Stipulated judgment and rejecting Yuima’s argument that the limitations of the stipulated judgment only applied if Yuima used the water in one particular part of its service area. The court concluded that the pumping limitation was a hard cap on Yuima—which applies with equal force today, as it would have to Yuima’s predecessors in interest in 1953.
As a member of Rutan’s Government & Regulatory Law Section, Jeremy Jungreis assists clients with environmental compliance and water litigation, land use/natural resource issues, water supply development and defense, public agency law, utility law, strategic planning/coalition building, and governmental relations at the state, regional and local levels. He is recognized as an expert on federal and state water law and possesses a unique understanding of the legal relationships between local, state and federal agencies on water issues, having served as special counsel to numerous Southern California water agencies, and as lead attorney for the Department of the Navy in the Santa Margarita, Mojave, and Walker River water rights adjudications. Rutan partners Karen Walter, Joel Kuperberg, and associate Michelle Molko also assisted with the case.
About Rutan & Tucker LLP
Rutan & Tucker is California’s largest full-service law firm headquartered in Orange County, California with offices in Costa Mesa and Palo Alto. Primary practice areas include business and real estate litigation, corporate and securities law, labor and employment law, intellectual property, real estate, municipal and government agency law, land use law, bankruptcy, condemnation and property valuation, environmental law, and taxation and estate planning. Detailed information about the firm is available at www.rutan.com.