Articles Posted in Government Contracts

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In holding that the successor judge in this case had authority to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for breach of contract and consequential damages and committed no reversible error by doing so, the Supreme Court repudiated any language in its precedent that suggests that a successor judge on a case is bound by nonfinal decisions and rulings made by his predecessor. Plaintiff, who was hired by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to work on different construction projects, filed various claims against UDOT and other contractors on the projects. UDOT moved for summary judgment on claims for breach of contract on the “Arcadia” project and claims seeking consequential damages. Judge Kennedy, the original judge assigned to the case, denied both motions. Judge Kennedy was then replaced in this case by Judge Harris. Judge Harris ultimately dismissed Plaintiff’s claims for breach of contract and consequential damages. Plaintiff filed this interlocutory appeal, arguing that Judge Harris violated the so-called coordinate judge rule, which Plaintiff alleged limits the discretion of a successor judge to revisit decisions of a predecessor. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) a successor judge has the same power to review nonfatal decisions that a predecessor would have had; and (2) Judge Harris did not commit reversible error by dismissing the claims at issue. View "Build v. Utah Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In a 1905 water exchange agreement, Big Ditch Irrigation Company conveyed its Big Cottonwood Creek water right to the Salt Lake City Corporation in exchange for the City's commitment to supply Big Ditch with a specified quantity of irrigation-quality water from City sources. Concerned that Big Ditch was infringing upon the City's water rights, the City initiated this case against Big Ditch and four Big Ditch shareholders in district court. The City sought declaratory judgment on several issues. Big Ditch and the shareholders counterclaimed. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City on most major issues. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the district court properly dismissed the defendants' counterclaims and correctly concluded that the City holds title to the water rights conveyed in the agreement. The Court held, however, that the district court erred in (1) determining that Big Ditch did not have a right to file change applications; (2) determining that the parties had modified the agreement or, alternatively, that Big Ditch was estopped from enforcing its right to the amount of water specified in the agreement; and (3) refusing to dismiss the City's claims against the shareholders. View "Salt Lake City Corp. v. Big Ditch Irrigation Co." on Justia Law