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PPL Montana v. Montana

On February 22, 2012, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in favor of Bancroft’s client PPL Montana in PPL Montana v. Montana, 132 S. Ct. 1215 (2012). Bancroft partner Paul D. Clement argued the case on PPL Montana’s behalf on December 7, 2011. The case involved the proper constitutional test for determining whether a river is navigable, such that the riverbeds underlying it belong to the state. Agreeing with PPL Montana that the Montana Supreme Court misinterpreted that test, the Supreme Court reversed the Montana court’s holding that the state of Montana owns riverbeds underlying multiple PPL Montana power plants and may charge PPL Montana tens of millions of dollars in retroactive and future lease payments for their use. Paul D. Clement and Erin E. Murphy prepared the briefing.

Supreme Court Opinion
Brief
Reply Brief
Lawrence Hurley, Top Bush Lawyers Will Face Off in Supreme Court Over Mont Riverbed Case, New York Times (Sept. 26, 2011)
Matt Volz, Montana Dam Dispute Sparks Debate Among Historians, The Seattle Times (Dec. 7, 2011)
Greg Stohr, Power Companies Win U.S. High Court Clash Over River Rights, Bloomberg (Feb. 22, 2012)