Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)


3 Months Ended
Nov. 30, 2013
Litigation Loss Contingencies  



The Company is involved in various claims, litigation and other legal proceedings that arise in the ordinary course of its business. The Company records an accrual for a loss contingency when its occurrence is probable and damages can be reasonably estimated based on the anticipated most likely outcome or the minimum amount within a range of possible outcomes. The Company makes such estimates based on information known about the claims and experience in contesting, litigating and settling similar claims. Disclosures are also provided for reasonably possible losses that could have a material effect on the Company's financial position, results of operations or cash flows.


Because each of the lawsuits below involves complex legal issues and uncertainties and are in the early stages of litigation, the Company has determined that no accruals for losses related to the lawsuits are reasonably estimable or deemed reasonably likely at this time.


In December 2011, the Company and the District filed a lawsuit against the State of Colorado acting by and through the Land Board. The complaint was filed with the District Court, City and County of Denver, State of Colorado. The Company and the District are claiming that the Land Board breached, and will breach, agreements entered into by the Land Board with the Company and the District in connection with a 1996 settlement agreement. Those agreements include (i) the Amended and Restated Water Lease, dated as of April 4, 1996, between the Land Board and the District (the “Lease”) and (ii) the Service Agreement of the same date between the Company and the District. As initially reported in a Current Report on Form 8-K filed on November 29, 2011, the Land Board issued a Request for Proposal that included a draft lease agreement related to oil and gas rights at the Land Board’s Lowry Range. The Land Board subsequently entered into an oil and gas lease for the Lowry Range, which the Company believes does not protect the Company’s exclusive rights. As a result of this breach, the Company and the District are claiming damages to be proven at trial.


HP A&M initiated a lawsuit against the Company in District Court, City and County of Denver, State of Colorado on February 27, 2012, alleging breaches of representations made in connection with the Arkansas River Agreement. The HP A&M claims relate to the issues currently being litigated between the Company and the Land Board regarding the Company’s exclusive right to provide water service to the Land Board’s Lowry Range property. The Company believes the allegations are without merit and intends to vigorously defend against them.


The Land Board asserted certain counterclaims in the lawsuit described above that relate to operational disputes under the Lease. On June 14, 2013, the Company, the District and the Land Board entered into an Arbitration Agreement pursuant to which the parties have agreed to submit three counterclaims under the Lease to binding arbitration: (i) whether revenue from wastewater services are subject to royalties under the Lease and the appropriate payment for a right-of-way for a wastewater reclamation facility, (ii) whether Export Water royalties are owed on a net or gross proceeds basis, and (iii) if, and/or how water from the four aquifers under the Lowry Range should be blended for sale, as well as any related claims of the Company and the District for offset, credit or overpayment of previous royalties paid and defenses to the three claims. The counterclaims have been dismissed from the lawsuit without prejudice. An arbitrator has not yet been selected, so the timing of resolution of these claims is unknown. Because the arbitration has not proceeded past the agreement stage and the outcome is uncertain, the Company has determined that accruals for losses related to the arbitration are not reasonably estimable or deemed reasonably likely at this time. The Company and the District believe that they have been conducting their operations in accordance with the Lease and are prepared to defend their decisions in the arbitration.


During the fiscal year ended August 31, 2013, foreclosure proceedings were commenced against 38 of the properties acquired by the Company from HP A&M which are subject to promissory notes defaulted upon by HP A&M and secured by deeds of trust on the Company’s land and water rights. These properties represent approximately 40% of the Company’s FLLC shares and over 45% of the Company’s Arkansas River land. The proceedings were filed on various dates from January 9, 2013 through July 3, 2013, with the Public Trustees of Bent, Otero and Prowers Counties in Colorado and involve claims against HP A&M for its failure to pay the notes. Foreclosure proceedings in Colorado take at least nine months to conclude. Foreclosure sales were conducted on three of the Company’s farm properties on August 28, 2013, and on a fourth property on September 4, 2013, subsequent to fiscal year end. The Company’s wholly owned subsidiary, PCY Holding, LLC (“PCY Holdings”), was the successful bidder in the foreclosure sales. Due to statutory protections afforded to the Company as the owner of the properties and the Company’s liquidity, the Company had anticipated concluding these foreclosure proceedings on terms which would not have a material adverse effect on its financial position, results of operations or cash flows. On September 16, 2013, HP A&M filed a complaint against PCY Holdings and the Public Trustee for the County of Bent, Colorado. The lawsuit was filed in the District Court, County of Bent, Colorado. HP A&M was seeking (i) a declaratory judgment that it is entitled to redeem the four properties from the foreclosure sales by paying the amount of the outstanding debt, plus fees, which is the amount PCY Holdings bid in the sales, and (ii) preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Public Trustee preventing the Public Trustee from issuing confirmation deeds for the foreclosure sales to PCY Holdings or anyone other than HP A&M. On November 20, 2013 the Complaint was dismissed with prejudice, and judgment was entered in favor of the Public Trustee and PCY Holdings. The District Court ruled that “High Plains’ Complaint and Motion are baseless, without statutory authority, and are an attempt to obstruct the proper function of the office of the Public Trustee of Bent County, and PCY Holdings relative to the foreclosures of the four Subject Farms”. Further the District Court ruled “that High Plains’ Motion and its claims in its Verified Complaint are frivolous and groundless, and awards the Public Trustee of Bent County and PCY Holdings their attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in connection with this matter.”


On January 3, 2014 HP A&M filed a notice of appeal of the judgment with the Colorado Court of Appeals. If HP A&M wins on appeal, the Company could lose these properties, subject to its remedies under the Arkansas River Agreement. The Company intends to vigorously defend any appeal of this ruling and to pursue the remedies against HP A&M for the defaults. Because the appellate process has just been initiated and the timing and outcome of the appeal is uncertain, the Company has determined that accruals for losses related to the appeal are not reasonably estimable or deemed reasonably likely at this time.