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California Oregon Power Co. v. Beaver Portland Cement Co.

295 U.S. 142 (1935)

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California Oregon Power Co. v. Beaver Portland Cement Co.

United States Supreme Court

295 U.S. 142 (1935)

Facts

In 1885, the federal government granted a Homestead Act patent to land bordered by an unnavigable river to the predecessor of the California Oregon Power Company (the power company) (plaintiff). Neither the power company nor its predecessor ever diverted or appropriated water from the river. When the Beaver Portland Cement Company (the cement company) (defendant) contracted to buy land with adjudicated, permitted water rights on the opposite bank and began blasting to open the channel and build a dam, the power company sued to enjoin any interference that would decrease the flow. The power company claimed common-law riparian rights attached to the land when the government originally issued the patent. The district court found the patent carried with it common-law rights to have the flow continue in its natural channel without substantial diminution but also found the state could modify that right under its police power and denied an injunction except for preventing the cement company from lowering the water below a fixed level. The power company appealed. After the Ninth Circuit affirmed, the Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sutherland, J.)

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