USA Power, LLC v. PacifiCorp, 2016 UT 20 (May 16, 2016)

May 16, 2016

After first assisting USA Power in obtaining water rights for its bid for a contract to build a power plant, a lawyer later assisted PacifiCorp in obtaining different water rights for its own bid, and PacifiCorp was ultimately awarded the contract. USA Power sued the lawyer for malpractice, alleging she had breached her fiduciary duties and damaged USA Power by helping PacifiCorp obtain water rights that were critical to PacifiCorp’s proposal winning out over USA Power’s. The court applied a high standard of causation, requiring USA Power to not only show that the lawyer disadvantaged it in the bidding process, but also that it would have benefitted in the specific way it claimed.This included requiring proof that, had the lawyer declined to assist PacifiCorp, PacifiCorp would either not have hired another lawyer or that another reasonably skilled and diligent lawyer would not have been able to duplicate the lawyer’s work for in locating water.