The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by Idaho farmers who sued a utility company for flooding their land.
The court, without comment, on Tuesday let stand a ruling denying the farmers compensation for crop losses and other damage.The farmers sued Utah Power & Light Co., which controls water flowing from Bear Lake on the state boundary between Idaho and Utah.
Their land was flooded from 1983 through 1986 due to what the utility company said was unusually heavy spring runoffs.
The company uses a pumping station to control water flowing from the lake. When the lake is full and Utah Power stops pumping water, it flows down the Bear River.
Utah Power said it seeks to balance competing interests in controlling the water flow. A large recreational industry, fisheries, electricity customers and farmers depend on the water supply, the company said.
But the farmers who sued said the company is trying "to play God" and "selectively determine whom to harm and whom to benefit."
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out their suit in August. The appeals court said that Idaho law, as interpreted by the Idaho Supreme Court, bars such suits unless they are based on a claim of negligence.
A federal judge had dismissed that portion of the farmers' suit based on their claim the power company deliberately caused their losses.
Then a jury decided against the farmers on their alternative claim that the company was guilty of negligence.
The 9th Circuit Court rejected arguments by the landowners that the jury was prevented improperly from hearing evidence to support their negligence claim.