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Judge Tosses Nevada Couple’s Water Spat

RENO, Nev. (CN) - The Truckee Carson Irrigation District won't face more claims from a Nevada couple who say it owes $4.3 million in damages for refusing to deliver water, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Miranda M. Du on Feb. 5 denied motions made on Feb. 2 by Stuart and Susan MacKie seeking a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order of enforcement of a Churchill County court order barring the couple from claiming a secured interest in the irrigation district's assets.

The order also allows the district to terminate financing statements the MacKies filed claiming a "perfected claim" of $4.3 million against it.

"Plaintiffs' request for relief is entirely based on a decision against them in ongoing litigation in a state trial court. This court is barred from considering such claims by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine," Du wrote.

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents federal courts from exercising "subject matter jurisdiction over a de facto appeal from a state court judgment," Du said.

The MacKies filed a pro se federal complaint on Jan. 25 against the irrigation district, saying it breached a contract by refusing to deliver water for several seasons - causing $4.3 million in damages.

The MacKies claim they hold rights to Truckee River water that the irrigation district is to deliver to them upon demand. After the irrigation district refused to deliver water for several seasons, the MacKies say they lodged a claim with the irrigation district - which told them to file a claim with their liability insurance carrier, the couple says.

Instead, the MacKies filed a financing statement as a creditor of the irrigation district, and the district successfully challenged the financing statement in Churchill County court.

The MacKies asked Du to enjoin the state court's order, claiming they were not served properly, that the irrigation district's attorneys have not shown they are licensed to practice law, and that the Churchill County judge did not comply with their request to provide documents showing he is qualified to act as a judge.

In denying their motions, Du said the MacKies did not show good cause exists for their claim, did not provide a statement showing why their request should not be considered without notifying defendants, and asked the court to "exercise jurisdiction it does not possess."

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