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Haik v. Salt Lake City Corp.

Supreme Court of Utah

March 13, 2017

Mark C. Haik, Appellant,
v.
Salt Lake City Corporation, Appellee.

         On Direct Appeal Third District, Salt Lake The Honorable Andrew H. Stone No. 140900915

          Paul R. Haik, Minneapolis, MN, for appellant.

          Shawn E. Draney, Scott H. Martin, Dani N. Cepernich, Salt Lake City, for appellee.

          Justice Himonas authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Durrant, Associate Chief Justice Lee, Justice Durham, and Justice Pearce joined.

          OPINION

          Himonas, Justice.

         INTRODUCTION

         ¶ 1 In 1997, Paul Haik litigated a lawsuit in federal court based on strikingly similar facts to the one that he now seeks to pursue in the third district, and he lost on the merits. See Haik v. Town of Alta, No. 97-4202, 1999 WL 190717, at *1 (10th Cir. Apr. 5, 1999). In 2012, Mr. Haik litigated a lawsuit in federal court based on exactly the same facts as the one before us, and he lost again. See Haik v. Salt Lake City Corp., 567 F.App'x 621, 623 (10th Cir. 2014). To be sure, Mr. Haik did not raise each and every legal claim in the federal court that he now seeks to raise-just some of them. But he could have raised them all. And he should have. And now they are barred.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶ 2 Mr. Haik has spent the better part of the last twenty years asking courts to order Salt Lake City to supply his undeveloped property in the Albion Basin Subdivision with enough water (at least 400 gallons per day) to allow him to build houses on it. His first foray into the courts occurred in 1997, when he argued before the federal district court that Salt Lake City and Alta's refusal to extend adequate municipal water services to his unimproved land in the Albion Basin amounted to an unconstitutional taking and was a violation of equal protection of law. Haik v. Town of Alta, No. 2:96-cv-732-BSJ, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24541, at *1, *34 (D. Utah Oct. 31, 1997), affd, No. 97-4202, 1999 WL190717 (10th Cir. Apr. 5, 1999). The federal court ruled against Mr. Haik on the merits of both his takings and equal protection claims, concluding that Salt Lake City owed "no legal duty to furnish water to users outside its own city limits." Id. at *36. With respect to Mr. Haik's equal protection claim, the court reasoned that Salt Lake City's refusal to provide Mr. Haik with water was a rational exercise in line-drawing connected to a legitimate interest-the curtailment of "environmentally harmful development." Haik v. Town of Alta, No. 97-4202, 1999 WL 190717, at *5 (10th Cir. Apr. 5, 1999). The federal court also ruled that no taking occurred because "mere expectation of municipal water service in the future is not a legal right that constitutes property subject to taking."Id. at*7.

         ¶ 3 In 2012, Mr. Haik filed yet another lawsuit-also litigated in federal court-in which he again sought a determination that Salt Lake City was required to supply him with enough water to develop his Albion Basin property. This lawsuit alleged different legal claims, but, for the most part, the facts remained the same. In the 2012 lawsuit, Mr. Haik again sought a court order requiring Salt Lake City to supply his lots in the Albion Basin with enough water to permit him to develop the property. This time, Mr. Haik added to his equal protection claims allegations of misrepresentation and fraud on the court, a civil conspiracy between Salt Lake City and Alta, and violations of due process. Haik v. Salt Lake City Corp., 567 F.App'x 621, 625-26 (10th Cir. 2014). He also sprinkled his complaint with citations to several Utah constitutional provisions (although he did not plead separate state constitutional violations as claims). And he alleged, as new facts, that Salt Lake City had sought and obtained authorization from the State Engineer to supply properties in the Albion Basin with enough water to permit development, that some properties falling within Salt Lake City's water service area had received 400 gallons of water per day, and that some properties in the Albion Basin Subdivision had been receiving water in unmetered amounts. Id.

         ¶ 4 As in his first federal suit, the federal court again ruled against Mr. Haik. It noted that there was a "substantial overlap between [the facts in the first federal lawsuit] and the allegations supporting the Haiks' [current claims]." Id. at 633. It found that his civil conspiracy claim was barred by claim preclusion because he could have raised it in his first federal lawsuit, but neglected to do so. Id. at 633-34. It also found that his due process claims were precluded by issue preclusion, because they depended on his having a protected property interest in the water that Salt Lake City refused to supply him, and this question was resolved against him in his first lawsuit. Id. at 627-31. And it concluded that his misrepresentation and equal protection claims, though to an extent predicated on new facts, failed to state a claim. Id. at 631-33, 634-35.

         ¶ 5 After Mr. Haik lost his second federal suit, Salt Lake City sued him in state court seeking to adjudicate Mr. Haik's and others' interests in water rights in Little Cottonwood Creek and to quiet title to a portion of the flow of the South Despain Ditch that several defendants, including Mr. Haik, allegedly claim for themselves. Mr. Haik has used this suit as an opportunity to take yet a third bite at the apple. Adducing exactly the same facts that he put before the federal district court in 2012, Mr. Haik has alleged as counterclaims that he is entitled to water under the state constitution's due process and uniform operation of law provisions as well as article XI, section 6 of the Utah Constitution. He also claims that the City has invalidly appropriated certain water rights and that the City's management of water is subject to scrutiny under Salt Lake County v. Salt Lake City, 570 P.2d 119 (Utah 1977).

         ¶ 6 The district court dismissed Mr. Haik's counterclaims on the grounds that they were res judicata. After the court certified this dismissal as a final order under rule 54(b) of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, Mr. Haik ...


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