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Colorado Springs v. Northern Colo. Water Conservancy Dist.

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20267
Nos. No. 08-1154, (10th Cir., 11/25/2009)

The Tenth Circuit held that a proposed intervener may not establish standing, and thus federal court jurisdiction over its motion to intervene, by "piggybacking" on the standing of an existing party to a lawsuit over which the district court has retained jurisdiction but within which there is no current, active dispute among the parties. The underlying dispute concerns water rights to Colorado's Blue River for which the district court retained jurisdiction after issuing a final decree on the consolidated cases more than 50 years ago. The owner of a mine filed a motion to intervene in the consolidated cases because it wanted the court to determine the priority of rights under the decree. The owner was unable to establish independent standing to intervene because any injury in fact to its water rights that it may suffer is not fairly traceable to a challenged action of any existing party to the consolidated cases. Nor can the owner establish piggyback standing to intervene. There is no active adversarial dispute to which the existing parties to the consolidated cases are seeking judicial resolution. As such, even the original parties to the lawsuit lack standing to pursue an action based merely on the district court's retained jurisdiction.