damages are capable of apportionment. The primary sources of water in the Salton Sea are from IID, CVWD, Mexican irrigation, and natural run-off from storms. There is testimony that IID is responsible for approximately 7l.5% of the water in the Salton Sea. Hence, IID is ordered to pay that percent of the damages granted in this lawsuit. Further, there is testimony that CVWD is responsible for approximately 5.5% of the water in the Salton Sea. CVWD is ordered to pay that percent of the damages awarded.
Finally, there is the issue of prejudgment interest. The court has previously ruled that there is no prejudgment interest on nominal damages. It also rules that there should be no prejudgment interest on past damages from 1950-1992.
In a case arising under federal law, federal courts will look to state law in formulating a rule of decision, unless state law conflicts with the need for a uniform federal policy. Bd. of Comm'rs. of Jackson County v. United States, 308 U.S. 343, 60 S. Ct. 285, 84 L. Ed. 313 (1939); State Box Co. v. United States, 321 F.2d 640 (9th Cir. 1963). In Jackson, the Court, finding no well-established federal policy regarding liability for prejudgment interest, looked to state law in deciding whether the county was liable to an Indian band for prejudgment interest on wrongfully collected taxes. Jackson, 308 U.S. at 351. The fact that the defendant was a political subdivision factored into the Court's decision to look to state law rather than apply the "general notions of equity" that govern liability for interest in a suit between the government and a private litigant for money owed the government. Id. at 349. In this case, the defendant districts are akin to the county in Jackson and, thus, this court will look to state law in determining liability for prejudgment interest.
Because the damages in this case are disputed, California Civil Code § 3288 applies. This section provides that interest may be given in an action "for the breach of an obligation not arising from contact . . . in the discretion of the [trier of fact]." Cal. Civ. Code § 3288 (West 1970). This section "permits discretionary prejudgment interest for unliquidated tort claims." Greater Westchester Homeowners Ass'n v. City of Los Angeles, 26 Cal. 3d 86, 102, 160 Cal. Rptr. 733, 603 P.2d 1329 (1979). The award of such interest represents the accretion of wealth which money or particular property could have produced during a period of loss. Id. at 102-03.
The court declines to award prejudgment interest because it is very speculative that the Indian land in this lawsuit would have resulted in an "accretion of wealth." There is no evidence that anyone has ever sought to rent or buy the Indian land involved in this lawsuit and, as noted, the land is not desirable because of the extensive clay and salt content of the soil, and because the band has no ready access to an inexpensive supply of water. Moreover, in this case, awarding prejudgment interest seems inequitable since it would in effect reward the plaintiffs for not being vigilant about bringing this lawsuit much earlier than they did.
In conclusion, the court finds defendants are liable for trespass for the years 1924-1992. Plaintiffs are awarded nominal damages of $ 39,000, and past damages of $ 1,277,062.00. The court denies injunctive relief because it is inequitable and impractical. Instead, it awards future damages of $ 2,594,000.00 which sum reflects the fee value of the land. Plaintiffs are awarded costs of suit. Plaintiffs' counsel are directed to prepare and file a judgment which corresponds to this decision by August 1, 1992.
DATED: July 17, 1992
JUDITH N. KEEP, Chief Judge
United States District Court