Case Summary: Stern v. Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy.
Posted on Aug. 31, 2012

What happens when a company has an easement across property and wants to make a change in the way that it is used?  The Utah Supreme Court considered this in the case Stern v. Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy.

In that case, nearly a century ago, the Utah Lake Irrigation Company acquired the right to build an open canal across four properties in Draper to transport irrigation water.  Since then, many things have changed.  That company no longer exists, and Draper City has since acquired its rights.  The properties have changed hands.  And, the communities’ needs for the supply of water have changed.  In 2002, Metropolitan Water District sought to build a bike path and an underground aquaduct to carry culinary water with above-ground, concrete air valve structures where the canal once stood. 

Does the utility have the right to change the use that was conveyed so long ago?  Many people own property through which a utility has an easement, a license, or some type of right to use the property in some way.   As in the Stern case, the utility often desires to modify the use at some point in time.  For example, a power company may need to increase the size of the power lines.  Several people in Jones Waldo’s real estate and litigation departments have skill and experience helping people and companies understand what their rights are in these circumstances.  Contact Kathleen McDonald, Bob Dillon, Lucy Jenkins, or Eric Lee for more information. 

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Author

kathleenAttorney Kathleen McDonald

Kathleen is a shareholder at Jones Waldo.  She specializes in litigation with a particular emphasis on appeals and commercial litigation.  Kathleen has written or argued appeals in the Tenth Circuit, the Utah Court of Appeals, and the Utah Supreme Court.  Kathleen specializes in construction, environmental, civil rights, and commercial litigation.

Kathleen received her law degree with honors from the University of Arizona in 2004.  She received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College.  Kathleen has unusually well-rounded legal experience; in law school, Kathleen clerked with an in-house corporate attorney and worked in government.  She also clerked at the Utah Court of Appeals.  

Local Foundations

Kathleen volunteers a significant amount of time each week with a variety of community programs including the Tracy Aviary, the Bennion Center and Friends of Animals.

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