Archuleta v. Gomez

200 P.3d 333 (2009)

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Archuleta v. Gomez

Colorado Supreme Court
200 P.3d 333 (2009)

Facts

Ralph (Lupe) Archuleta (plaintiff) and Theodore Gomez (defendant) owned adjoining properties in the Upper Huerfano River drainage of the Arkansas River Basin as successors-in-interest to Sabino Archuleta. Portions of various irrigation ditches ran through Lupe’s and Gomez’s properties. Lupe sought an injunction from the water court to force Gomez to restore three ditch rights-of-way to reestablish Lupe’s access to water through the ditches. Gomez contended that he had acquired the rights by adverse possession because more than 18 years prior, Gomez had filled in one of the ditches and diverted all of the water from another ditch, and the third ditch had ceased flowing onto Lupe’s land in 1968. Gomez also participated in rotational agricultural irrigation agreements using the ditches that did not involve Lupe, and Lupe had not participated in ditch maintenance. Gomez contended that because Lupe had not exercised his irrigation water right for over 18 years, Gomez owned the water right by virtue of Gomez’s actions adverse to Lupe. The water court agreed, awarding all disputed water rights to Gomez. Lupe appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hobbs, J.)

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