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Court of Appeals of New Mexico
May 21, 2019, Filed
M. ZAMORA, Chief Judge.
P1 Plaintiffs Melvin A. Elkins, Jr. (Elkins, individually) and Wanda L. Elkins (Plaintiffs, collectively)1 appeal an order of the district court denying their motion for summary judgment; granting partial summary judgment in favor of Waterfall Community Water Users Association (Defendant); and declaring Defendant and its properly owners as having ownership in certain water rights and a water delivery system held in a constructive trust. Plaintiffs also appeal the district court's damages award to Defendant for services including use of the water delivery system, which delivered water to Plaintiffs' properties. We affirm.
P2 This case is the latest in a decades-long series of disputes involving [*2] water rights from a surface water source, now known as the Culbertson Springs, located in the Waterfall Subdivisions and Waterfall East Subdivisions (collectively, Waterfall subdivisions) in Otero County, New Mexico. Because of the complexity of the historical, factual, and procedural backgrounds, we explain the background in greater detail than we ordinarily would for a memorandum opinion.
P3 The district court based its summary judgment decision on the following facts,2 which it accepted as undisputed and ruled accordingly. The water rights at issue were adjudicated and awarded to Ysleta College Corp. on April 30, 1945 (Ysleta Decree). See Bass v. Ysleta College Corp., Otero County Cause No. 4116 (1945). The court in Ysleta College decreed that the "rights of said YSLETA COLLEGE in and to said Culbertson Spring[s] and to the use of the water thereof are and forever hereafter shall be appurtenant to and non-severable from the hereinabove described land now owned by it[.]" That area of land owned by Ysleta College, together with all appurtenant rights, came to be known as the "Waterfall." After a series of conveyances, on May 31, 1971, Waterfall, Inc. acquired the Waterfall, "including [*3] water rights and all water rights in and to the Culbertson Spring[s]." From 1971 to 1973, Waterfall, Inc. recorded plats for the Waterfall subdivisions.
P4 On June 21, 1976, Waterfall, Inc.3 by sole shareholder Ira Rupp conveyed the Waterfall subdivisions to Caidas Del Agua, Inc. (Caidas Del Agua) "together with all water rights appurtenant thereto, and the rights to all springs located upon, or presently being utilized by or upon the properties conveyed [t]hereby, together with all such rights and springs which Grantor might have or claim on lands in the immediate vicinity of the lands conveyed [t]hereby." On July 25, 1976, Caidas Del Agua mortgaged the same interest in the Waterfall subdivisions to the Bank of Santa Fe.4 On August 15, 1978, Caidas Del Agua mortgaged the same interest in the Waterfall subdivisions to Consumer Credit Corporation (CCC). Caidas Del Agua operated the Waterfall Water Distribution System (the WDS) for the benefit of the Waterfall subdivisions property owners, until it defaulted on CCC's mortgage in 1979. CCC foreclosed on the mortgage, and received two Special Master's deeds to the property listing the remaining lots in the Waterfall subdivisions "together [*4] with all tenements and appurtenances thereto belonging[.]"
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2019 N.M. App. Unpub. LEXIS 154 *; 2019 WL 2420050
MELVIN A. ELKINS, JR. and WANDA L. ELKINS, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. WATERFALL COMMUNITY WATER USERS ASSOCIATION, Defendant-Appellee.
Notice: THIS SLIP OPINION IS SUBJECT TO FORMAL REVISION UPON RELEASE OF THE FINAL VERSION.
Prior History: [*1] APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF OTERO COUNTY. James Waylon Counts, District Judge.
Elkins v. Waterfall Cmty. Water Users Ass'n, 2011 N.M. App. Unpub. LEXIS 125 (N.M. Ct. App., Mar. 29, 2011)
water rights, district court, ownership, appurtenant, rights, Deeds, matter of law, properties, conveyed, constructive trust, property owner, water delivery, merits, Spring[s, charges, lawsuit, Counts, summary judgment, final judgment, counterclaims, Settlement, parties, water service, irreparable, conveyance, Decree, notice, proposed findings of fact, partial summary judgment, claim of ownership