Eudora News and

Story by George Diepenbrock courtesy The Lawrence Journal-World

A long-standing legal battle in federal court between Douglas County Rural District No. 4 and the city of Eudora has returned to the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in June denied each side’s motion for summary judgment in the case, but she gave the parties the right to ask the federal appellate court in Denver to consider how a recent change in a state law affects the case.

“We’re very appreciative that the judge thought that this was an issue that was deserving of consideration of interlocutory appeal,” said Lawrence attorney John Nitcher, who represents the water district.

Robinson in her June decision said an appellate ruling on the issue could either decide the case or make it necessary to have a new trial.

The court of appeals as of Friday had not responded to a request from the water district’s attorneys to take up the issue. It’s called an interlocutory appeal because the case has not been resolved at the district court level.

The legal battle has already made it through one jury trial and appellate reversal.

The water district sued Eudora in 2007 seeking to prevent the city from providing service to properties the city annexed years prior south of Kansas Highway 10 along County Road 1061. Water district officials alleged the city violated the district’s exclusive right under federal law — because it had a federally guaranteed bank loan — to provide water service to current and prospective customers. The city filed a counterclaim against the district.

A jury in 2009 found in favor of the water district, but a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel later reversed the verdict based on an error in a jury instruction and returned the case to Robinson’s court.

An attorney representing the city in the case could not be reached for comment Friday.

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