City attempting to re-litigate issues already decided by the courts

In 1984, the city of Missoula attempted to take Mountain Water Company’s assets through condemnation. After five years of litigation that went — twice — to the Montana Supreme Court, the courts found that the city could not prove public necessity to own the water system. The courts based that decision on several key points.

The doctrine of collateral estoppel exists to assure that litigation has a definite end. More to the point here, the doctrine precludes a plaintiff from re-litigating issues that have already been ruled on by the courts.

In this case, the city is trying to revive arguments that were already decided in the earlier case. For example, the city is once again arguing that it can run the water system more efficiently and with fewer rate increases, when the courts already found in the 1980s case that the city could not do so.

This motion asks the courts to find that the city cannot reopen seven key issues on which the city bases its current condemnation case.

Download a PDF of the full motion to the court at this link.