BB&K In the News Apr 09, 2015

California Tribe Seeks to Drop Claims Against Utility in Tax Fight

BB&K Partner Roderick Walston Discusses in Law360 Desert Water Agency Role in Tribal Land Groundwater Tax and Fee Case

The Agua Caliente Tribe of Cahuilla Indians asked a California federal judge Wednesday to allow it to drop some of its claims against a water utility that intervened in the tribe's suit alleging Riverside County lacks authority to tax lessors on its tribal trust land.

Specifically, the tribe is looking to nix its claims against intervenor-defendant the Desert Water Agency regarding the ad valorem tax, groundwater replenishment fee and water service charge, which are all imposed by the DWA. The tribe's claims relating to the county's 1 percent possessory interest tax, part of which is sent to the DWA, would remain, according to Wednesday's motion.

The DWA, which says a victory by the tribe in its lawsuit would jeopardize the utility's ability to collect this revenue, plans to oppose the move.

DWA attorney Roderick E. Walston of Best Best & Krieger LLP said Thursday that the DWA is currently preparing its response to the tribe’s motion, which he characterized as a rehash of arguments already made in the tribe’s opposition to their motion to intervene.

“We think that the motion will prejudice us because we’ve spent a lot of time in litigation already once we were allowed to intervene,” he said, noting that the DWA has already filed four briefs and conducted discovery in the case.

To read the full article in Law360, which ran April 9, 2015, click here. (Subscription Required)

Continue Reading