Superseded 5/5/2021 73-1-16 Petition for hearing to determine validity -- Notice -- Service -- Pleading -- Costs -- Review.
Where any water users' association, irrigation company, canal company, ditch company, reservoir company, or other corporation of like character or purpose, organized under the laws of this state has entered into or proposes to enter into a contract with the United States for the payment by such association or company of the construction and other charges of a federal reclamation project constructed, under construction, or to be constructed within this state, and where funds for the payment of such charges are to be obtained from assessments levied upon the stock of such association or company, or where a lien is created or will be created against any of the land, property, canals, water rights or other assets of such association or company or against the land, property, canals, water rights or other assets of any stockholder of such association or company to secure the payment of construction or other charges of a reclamation project, the water users' association, irrigation company, canal company, ditch company, reservoir company or other corporation of like character or purpose may file in the district court of the county wherein is situated the office of such association or company a petition entitled ".......... Water Users' Association" or ".......... Company," as the case may be, "against the stockholders of said association or company and the owners and mortgagees of land within the .......... Federal Reclamation Project." No other or more specific description of the defendants shall be required. In the petition it may be stated that the water users' association, irrigation company, canal company, ditch company, reservoir company or other corporation of like character and purpose has entered into or proposes to enter into a contract with the United States, to be set out in full in said petition, with a prayer that the court find said contract to be valid, and a modification of any individual contracts between the United States and the stockholders of such association or company, or between the association or company, and its stockholders, so far as such individual contracts are at variance with the contract or proposed contract between the association or company and the United States. Thereupon a notice in the nature of a summons shall issue under the hand and seal of the clerk of said court, stating in brief outline the contents of said petition, and showing where a full copy of said contract or proposed contract may be examined, such notice to be directed to the said defendants under the same general designations, which shall be considered sufficient to give the court jurisdiction of all matters involved and parties interested. Service shall be obtained (a) by publication of such notice once a week for three consecutive weeks (three times) in a newspaper published in each county where the irrigable land of such federal reclamation project is situated, (b) as required in Section 45-1-101 for three weeks, (c) by publishing the notice on the Utah Public Notice Website created in Section 63F-1-701, for three weeks prior to the date of the hearing, and (d) by the posting at least three weeks prior to the date of the hearing on said petition of the notice and a complete copy of the said contract or proposed contract in the office of the plaintiff association or company, and at three other public places within the boundaries of such federal reclamation project. Any stockholder in the plaintiff association or company, or owner, or mortgagee of land within said federal reclamation project affected by the contract proposed to be made by such association or company, may demur to or answer said petition before the date set for such hearing or within such further time as may be allowed therefor by the court. The failure of any persons affected by the said contract to answer or demur shall be construed, so far as such persons are concerned as an acknowledgment of the validity of said contract and as a consent to the modification of said individual contracts if any with such association or company or with the United States, to the extent that such modification is required to cause the said individual contracts if any to conform to the terms of the contract or proposed contract between the plaintiff
and the United States. All persons filing demurrers or answers shall be entered as defendants in said cause and their defense consolidated for hearing or trial. Upon hearing the court shall examine all matters and things in controversy and shall enter judgment and decree as the case warrants, showing how and to what extent, if any, the said individual contracts of the defendants or under which they claim are modified by the plaintiff's contract or proposed contract with the United States. In reaching his conclusion in such causes, the court shall follow a liberal interpretation of the laws, and shall disregard informalities or omissions not affecting the substantial rights of the parties, unless it is affirmatively shown that such informalities or omissions led to a different result than would have been obtained otherwise. The Code of Civil Procedure shall govern matters of pleading and practice as nearly as may be. Costs may be assessed or apportioned among contesting parties in the discretion of the trial court. Review of the judgment of the district court by the Supreme Court may be had as in other civil causes.