Class-action status granted for canal suit
Associated Press Writer
RENO ” A state judge in Lyon County has granted class-action status to flood victims suing an irrigation district over the collapse of part of a century-old canal that sent a wall of water into the town of Fernley in January 2008.
The new order is the latest in a complicated series of legal cases in both state and federal court that already involve more than 30 lawyers representing six government entities, real estate agents, homebuilders, construction companies and potentially more than 500 homeowners.
The Truckee Carson Irrigation District, the chief target of the lawsuits, argued all the cases should be heard in U.S. District Court in Reno. That’s where another legal battle is continuing this week over liability for the canal’s failure and the way it should be managed in the future.
But Senior District Judge Miriam Shearing, a former state Supreme Court justice appointed to hear the suit filed in Lyon County, said in a ruling issued May 8 there is “no reason why the issue of TCID’s liability” should not be determined in state court in Yerington.
The order means all flood victims would be entitled to any settlement or damage awards resulting from the lawsuit over liability in Lyon County District Court.
Shearing said it appears there may be more than 500 homes affected with more than one person in each home.
“It is not practicable to have over 500 separate cases,” she wrote.
The new development comes as a hearing continued in federal court in Reno on Tuesday over an injunction flood victims are seeking to restrict the flows in the canal that brings water from the Truckee River to more than 2,500 ranchers and farmers in Northern Nevada east of Reno.
That evidentiary hearing is scheduled to conclude today, but U.S. District Judge Lloyd George indicated he won’t rule on an injunction for weeks.