Fernley City Council authorizes appeal of canal lawsuit dismissal

Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

Fernley’s fight to stop the lining of the Truckee Canal has at least one more round.

The City Council voted Wednesday night to authorize its legal team to appeal a U.S. District Court judge’s dismissal of its lawsuit seeking to stop the Bureau of Reclamation from lining a portion of the canal through Fernley.

U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du dismissed that lawsuit December 13. In her order dismissing the suit, Du didn’t address the city’s claims of damages that would be caused by the lining of the canal, but rather said her decision was because the interests of the City and the private intervenors in the case are economic, not environmental.

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David Rigdon, the attorney representing the City on the case, said the city’s complaint is based on the BOR’s Environmental Impact Statement, which doesn’t address the city’s claims that it and private well owners would be harmed by the loss of water seeping into the ground from the canal.

“This litigation is about their EIS,” Rigdon said. “We are alleging they are deficient.”

Rigdon told the council Wednesday night that the dismissal of the suit was with prejudice, which means the city cannot refile the case making the same arguments.

“This wasn’t about the merits of their EIS, it was purely whether the City could assert an interest,” Rigdon said. “It’s a pretty dramatic result, one we are quite disappointed with.”

On January 10, the City filed a petition with the court seeking to amend its complaint.

If that petition is denied, the case would be over, unless the City files an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The Council voted 3-2, with Council members Albert Torres, Fran McKay and Ray Lacy in favor and Felicity Zoberski and Stan Lau opposed, to authorize its legal team to file an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals if the District Court denies its petition to amend its complaint.

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