Monday, January 6, 2014

Sipriano v. Great Spring Waters of America, Inc. case brief

Sipriano v. Great Spring Waters of America, Inc. case brief summary
1 S.W.3d 75 (1999)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner landowners filed an appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Twelfth District (Texas), which affirmed the decision of the trial court that granted summary judgment against landowners who sued respondent bottled-water company for negligently draining their water wells.

CASE FACTS
Petitioner landowners sued respondent bottled-water company for negligently draining their water wells. Respondent moved for summary judgment, asserting that the state did not recognize petitioners' claims because it followed the rule of capture.

DISCUSSION

  • The court determined that it was asked whether the state should abandon the rule of capture for the rule of reasonable use, which would limit the common-law right of a surface owner to take water from a common reservoir by imposing liability on landowners who unreasonably use groundwater to their neighbors' detriment. 
  • The court determined petitioners presented compelling reasons for groundwater use to be regulated. 
  • However, the common law would have to be guided and constrained by constitutional and statutory considerations. 
  • It was found that the legislature was addressing the question of the regulation of groundwater, and the court was not persuaded that it was appropriate to insert itself into the regulatory mix by substituting the rule of reasonable use for the current rule of capture. 
  • The court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the judgment of the appeals court that affirmed the decision of the trial court which granted summary judgment against petitioner landowners who sued respondent bottled-water company for negligently draining their wells because the legislature was attempting to craft regulations to meet the state's groundwater conservation needs.

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