In re General Rights of Gila River System, No. WC-02-0003-IR.

CourtArizona Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHurwitz
Citation212 Ariz. 64,127 P.3d 882
Decision Date09 February 2006
Docket NumberNo. WC-02-0003-IR.
PartiesIn re The GENERAL ADJUDICATION OF ALL RIGHTS TO USE WATER IN the GILA RIVER SYSTEM AND SOURCE.
127 P.3d 882
In re The GENERAL ADJUDICATION OF ALL RIGHTS TO USE WATER IN the GILA RIVER SYSTEM AND SOURCE.
No. WC-02-0003-IR.
Supreme Court of Arizona, En Banc.
February 9, 2006.

Page 883

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Sparks, Tehan & Ryley, P.C. by Joe P. Sparks, John H. Ryley, Susan B. Montgomery, Robyn L. Kline, Scottsdale, Attorneys for San Carlos Apache Tribe.

Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, P.A. by John C. Lemaster, Michael J. Brophy, Cynthia M. Chandley, Sean T. Hood, William A. Richards, Phoenix, Attorneys for Phelps Dodge Corporation.

United States Department of Justice by Kelly A. Johnson, Patrick Barry, John L. Smeltzer, Washington, D.C., Attorneys for the United States.

Fennemore Craig, P.C. by Lauren J. Caster, Michael J. Pearce, Thomas R. Wilmoth, Phoenix, Attorneys for ASARCO L.L.C.

Salmon, Lewis & Weldon, P.L.C. by M. Byron Lewis, John B. Weldon, Jr., Mark A. McGinnis, Jason P. Alberts, Phoenix, Attorneys for Salt River Valley Water Users' Association and Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District.

Moyes Storey, Ltd. by Lee A. Storey, Steve Wene, Bradley K. Keogh, Phoenix, Attorneys for City of Safford.

Salmon, Lewis & Weldon, P.L.C. by Riney B. Salmon, II, Ronnie P. Hawks, Phoenix, Attorneys for San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District.

Brown & Brown Law Offices, by David A. Brown, Pinetop, Attorneys for Franklin Irrigation District.

Law Office of L. Anthony Fines by L. Anthony Fines, Tucson, Attorneys for Gila Valley Irrigation District.

Rodney B. Lewis, John T. Hestand, Timothy L. Pierson, Ruth E. Koester, Chandler, Attorneys for Gila River Indian Community.

OPINION

HURWITZ, Justice.


¶ 1 This is an interlocutory appeal by the San Carlos Apache Tribe ("Apache Tribe" or "Tribe") from an order issued in the Gila River general stream adjudication. See Ariz.Rev.Stat. ("A.R.S.") §§ 45-251 to -264 (2003) (authorizing general stream adjudications). The central issue is whether claims advanced by the Tribe (and the United States on the Tribe's behalf) are precluded by a consent decree entered in 1935 by the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. We conclude that the decree precludes the Tribe's claims to additional water from the Gila River mainstem, but not to water from tributaries of the Gila.

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I.
A.

¶ 2 The San Carlos Apache Reservation was established in 1872. The Gila River Indian Community ("GRIC") Reservation was established in 1859. Each reservation borders the Gila River.1

¶ 3 In the late 1800s, the federal government began considering a storage dam on the Gila River to provide water to the Tribe, GRIC, and non-Indian landowners in the Florence-Casa Grande area. In 1924, Congress first appropriated funds for the San Carlos Irrigation Project ("San Carlos Project"), a reclamation project involving construction of the Coolidge Dam on the Gila River and the creation of the San Carlos Reservoir. To facilitate the development of the San Carlos Project, the United States entered into agreements in 1924 with landowners along the Gila River (the "Landowners' Agreements"). Under these agreements, the landowners conveyed water rights appurtenant to their lands to the United States in exchange for San Carlos Project waters.

¶ 4 In 1925, the United States filed a complaint (the "Complaint") in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of itself, the Tribe, GRIC, and landowners within both the San Carlos Project and the Florence-Casa Grande Project (an earlier reclamation project on the Gila River). The Complaint named as defendants numerous individuals, irrigation districts, canal companies, and corporations. The Complaint alleged that GRIC, the Apache Tribe, and the reclamation projects were entitled to certain quantities of water from the Gila River and its tributaries and that the defendants' claims were "in conflict with or adverse to" the rights of the tribes and the projects. Compl. ¶ 7. The Complaint sought a determination of the rights of the parties "to the use of the waters flowing in said Gila River and its said tributaries." Id. ¶ 8.

¶ 5 Two years later, the United States filed an amended complaint (the "Amended Complaint"). The Amended Complaint denominated all parties other than the tribes and the United States as defendants, but explained that landowners "who have by contracts devoted their water rights to the said Florence-Casa Grande Project, and the San Carlos Project . . . are interested on the side of the United States in this action." Am. Compl. ¶ 15. In contrast to the initial Complaint, which sought an adjudication of rights to the "waters from said Gila River and its tributaries," Compl. ¶ 8, the Amended Complaint sought only to adjudicate the parties' rights to the "waters of the Gila River." Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 15.

¶ 6 Litigation continued over the next eight years. In 1935, the United States entered into stipulations dismissing without prejudice all defendants who maintained claims only to waters of the Gila River tributaries. The remaining parties stipulated to the entry of the Globe Equity Decree (the "Decree"). The Decree states that the parties "have concluded and settled all issues in this cause" and that the Decree "embodie[s]. . . and confirm[s]" the settlement of the parties. The Decree then "defin[es] and adjudicat[es] the[] claims and rights" of the parties by listing the dates of priority and amounts of water to which each is entitled. The Decree also specifies the places at which the parties may divert water.

¶ 7 The Decree is administered by a Water Commissioner appointed by the district court. The district court has retained jurisdiction to enforce and interpret the Decree. Litigation interpreting the Decree began soon after its entry and has continued ever since.2

Page 886

B.

¶ 8 Arizona law provides for the determination of multiple water use claims through general stream adjudications. See A.R.S. §§ 45-251 to -264. The Gila River general stream adjudication began in 1981 when we ordered a series of petitions consolidated into a single proceeding. See In the Matter of the Rights to the Use of the Gila River ("Gila I"), 171 Ariz. 230, 232-33, 830 P.2d 442, 444-45 (1992).3 In 1995, the Legislature declared that "an early focus by the general stream adjudication courts" should be "the trial of Indian and non-Indian federal water claims." 1995 Ariz. Sess. Laws, ch. 9, § 25(C). The superior court accordingly directed interested parties to file summary judgment motions as to whether claims raised by or on behalf of the Tribe in the general stream adjudication were precluded by the Decree.

¶ 9 In 2001, GRIC, ASARCO LLC, Phelps Dodge Corporation, the City of Safford ("Safford"), the Gila Valley Irrigation District ("GVID"), the Franklin Irrigation District ("FID"), and the San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District ("SCIDD") filed summary judgment motions. These motions argued that the Decree precludes the Tribe, and the Government on its behalf, from asserting additional claims to water from the Gila River and its tributaries. Some motions also contended that under the Supreme Court's opinion in Nevada v. United States, 463 U.S. 110, 103 S.Ct. 2906, 77 L.Ed.2d 509 (1983), non-parties to the Decree could assert the claimed preclusive effect of the Decree. The Tribe also filed a summary judgment motion, arguing that the Decree does not preclude its claims to additional water from the Gila River or the San Carlos River, a tributary of the Gila. The Tribe also argued that the Landowners' Agreements preclude GRIC from asserting claims to the San Carlos River.

¶ 10 On May 17, 2002, the superior court granted partial summary judgment to ASARCO, Phelps Dodge, Safford, SCIDD, GVID, and FID. The court held that the Decree was limited to the Gila River mainstem and did not cover its tributaries. The superior court also held that non-parties to the Decree could assert its preclusive effect.4

¶ 11 Given the lengthy nature of general stream adjudications, we have provided for interlocutory review of certain superior court orders. Special Procedural Order Providing for Interlocutory Appeals and Certifications (September 26, 1989); see Gila I, 171 Ariz. at 233 n. 2, 830 P.2d at 445 n. 2 (discussing the Special Procedural Order). We granted interlocutory review of six issues raised by the Apache Tribe and one issue raised by Phelps Dodge. Each of these issues turns on the preclusive effect of the Decree.5

Page 887

¶ 12 This Court has jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal pursuant to Article 6, Section 5(3) of the Arizona Constitution and the Special Procedural Order.6 We review grants of summary judgment de novo. See Duncan v. Scottsdale Med. Imaging, Ltd., 205 Ariz. 306, 308 ¶ 2, 70 P.3d 435, 437 (2003).7

II.

¶ 13 Federal law dictates the preclusive effect of a federal judgment. See Semtek Int'l Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 531 U.S. 497, 507, 121 S.Ct. 1021, 149 L.Ed.2d 32 (2001) (noting that state courts cannot give federal judgments "merely whatever effect they would give their own judgments, but must accord them the effect that [the United States Supreme] Court prescribes"); Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 488 n. 9, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994) ("State courts are bound to apply federal rules in determining the preclusive effect of federal-court decisions on issues of federal law."); First Pac. Bancorp v. Helfer, 224 F.3d 1117, 1128 (9th Cir.2000) ("When considering the preclusive effect of a federal court judgment, we apply the federal law of claim preclusion."); Restatement (Second) of Judgments ("Second Restatement") § 87 (1982) ("Federal law determines the effects under the rules of res judicata of a judgment of a federal court."). Thus, our task is to give the Decree the same preclusive effect as the federal courts would give it.

¶ 14 We deal today with the issue of claim preclusion, formerly referred to as res judicata.

Simply put, the...

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    • United States
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    ...53 S.Ct. 278, 77 L.Ed. 619 [1933] ; see also In re General adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 212 Ariz. 64, 70, 127 P.3d 882, 888 [ 2006] ) and, guided by the aim of pleading—"to frame one single legal issue"—that phrase came to have "a very narrow ......
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    ...preclusion law of the state in which the court sits); In re Gen. Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water In Gila River Sys. and Source, 212 Ariz. 64, 127 P.3d 882, 887 (2006) (holding Arizona courts must give federal court judgments same preclusive effect as under federal preclusion law). S......
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    • 20 februari 2018
    ...77 L.Ed. 619 [1933] ; see also 96 N.E.3d 745 In re General adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 212 Ariz. 64, 70, 127 P.3d 882, 888 [ 2006] ) and, guided by the aim of pleading—"to frame one single legal issue"—that phrase came to have "a very narrow ......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • 12 mei 2020
    ...Arizona through semi-arid and desert lands. In re the Gen. Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River Sys. & Source , 212 Ariz. 64, 127 P.3d 882, 885 n.1 (2006) (" Gen. Adj. 2006 "). The Gila River and its tributaries, including the Salt, Verde, Agua Fria, Santa Cruz, and San......
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66 cases
  • Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Allianz Risk Transfer AG, No. 16
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • 20 februari 2018
    ...53 S.Ct. 278, 77 L.Ed. 619 [1933] ; see also In re General adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 212 Ariz. 64, 70, 127 P.3d 882, 888 [ 2006] ) and, guided by the aim of pleading—"to frame one single legal issue"—that phrase came to have "a very narrow ......
  • Spinedex Physical Therapy v. United Healthcare, No. CV-08-457-PHX-ROS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • 29 april 2009
    ...preclusion law of the state in which the court sits); In re Gen. Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water In Gila River Sys. and Source, 212 Ariz. 64, 127 P.3d 882, 887 (2006) (holding Arizona courts must give federal court judgments same preclusive effect as under federal preclusion law). S......
  • Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Allianz Risk Transfer AG, No. 16
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • 20 februari 2018
    ...77 L.Ed. 619 [1933] ; see also 96 N.E.3d 745 In re General adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River System and Source, 212 Ariz. 64, 70, 127 P.3d 882, 888 [ 2006] ) and, guided by the aim of pleading—"to frame one single legal issue"—that phrase came to have "a very narrow ......
  • Gila River Indian Cmty. v. Cranford, No. CV-19-00407-TUC-SRB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • 12 mei 2020
    ...Arizona through semi-arid and desert lands. In re the Gen. Adjudication of All Rights to Use Water in the Gila River Sys. & Source , 212 Ariz. 64, 127 P.3d 882, 885 n.1 (2006) (" Gen. Adj. 2006 "). The Gila River and its tributaries, including the Salt, Verde, Agua Fria, Santa Cruz, and San......
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