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EnerVest, Ltd. v. Utah State Engineer, 2018 UT 55 (Sept. 27, 2018)

Sep 27, 2018

The Utah Supreme Court addressed two jurisdictional issues in this appeal from the district court’s rulings on competing motions for summary judgment in an expedited proceeding under Utah Code § 73-4-24(1) within a water rights general adjudication.  The court first held the district court’s summary judgment rulings were not properly certified under Rule 54(b) because the district court did not articulate why it determined there was no just reason for delay; the denial of two of the parties’ motions for summary judgment was not a final order that would be appealable but for the fact other claims or parties remained in the action; and, due to the nature of general adjudications, there cannot be “complete finality of any water rights until the entire general adjudication has been completed.”  The court then held that the only appellant lacked appellate standing because it was not “aggrieved” by the district court’s rulings, given that it had not objected to the State Engineer’s proposed determination with respect to the particular water right at issue.  The Court’s discussion on these issues may have far-reaching implications in the Utah Lake/Jordan River general adjudication currently underway.