DUGAN V. RANK, 372 U. S. 609 (1963)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dugan v. Rank, 372 U.S. 609 (1963)

Dugan v. Rank

No. 31

Argued January 7, 1963

Decided April 15, 1963*

372 U.S. 609


Respondents, who are claimants to water rights along the San Joaquin River before the Friant Dam in California, brought suit against the United States, local officials of the United States Bureau of Reclamation, and a number of irrigation and utility districts to enjoin the storing and diversion of water at the dam, which is part of the Central Valley Reclamation Project, authorized by Congress and undertaken by the Bureau of Reclamation under the Act of August 26, 1937, 50 Stat. 844. The suit was brought originally in a State Court, and was removed to a Federal District Court.


1. The McCarran amendment, 66 Stat. 560, granting consent to join the United States as a defendant in any suit "for the adjudication of rights to the use of water of a river system or other source," is not applicable here, since all claimants to water rights along the river were not made parties, no relief was asked as between claimants, and priorities were not sought to be established as to the appropriative and prescriptive rights asserted. Therefore, the United States has not consented to be made a party defendant in this suit, and it must be dismissed from the suit for want of jurisdiction. Pp. 372 U. S. 617-619.

The United States was empowered to acquire the water rights of respondents by physical seizure; the officials of the Bureau of Reclamation did not act beyond the scope of their authority; their alleged interference with the claimed rights of respondents would not be a trespass, but a partial taking for which the United States would be required to compensate respondents; the suit to enjoin these officials actually was a suit against the United States; and it must be dismissed as to these officials. Pp. 372 U. S. 611, 372 U. S. 619-623.

3. If respondents have valid water rights which have been interfered with or partially taken, their remedy is not the stoppage of this government reclamation project, but a suit against the United States under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346, for damages,

Page 372 U. S. 610

measured by the difference in the market value of respondents' land before and after the interference or taking. Pp. 372 U. S. 611, 372 U. S. 623-626.

4. The irrigation and utility districts which have contracts with the United States for the use of the water from the lake created by this dam must likewise be dismissed from this suit. P. 372 U. S. 626.

293 F.2d 340, 307 F.2d 96, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

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