The Utah Supreme Court has good news for Utah's city, county and state governments: They aren't responsible for what God may do.

The high court has ruled that Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and the state are not responsible for losses sustained by several North Temple businesses during the 1983 floods.The businesses sued the government because flooding from City Creek blocked access to their businesses for three weeks during the floods and for several months afterward during cleanup and construction.

Attorneys for the governments called the floods "an act of God" that the governments couldn't prevent.

Hope of America Thrift Store, Scotty's Travel Motor Hotels, Ten Pin Lounge, Rancho Lanes, Se Rancho Motor Hotel and Stockholm Restaurant all asked the governments to reimburse them for the business they lost during and after the flood.

The businesses blamed the flood on the governments' poor management of spring runoff. Many customers had to drive around the block to get into the businesses during the months after the flood when the North Temple conduit was being worked on.

"Government cannot be charged with a tort duty of care to protect all persons from injury caused by extraordinary acts of nature that are so extreme as to be uncontrollable and unpredictable. When such events occur, individuals must themselves shoulder their losses," Associate Chief Justice I. Daniel Stewart wrote for all the justices.

The court upheld 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy's summary judgment in favor of the governments. Murphy ruled that the Governmental Immunity Act protected the governments from liability.

The ruling reaffirms that "the taxpayer isn't the ultimate insurer of everybody's injuries when you have a disaster," said Salt Lake City Attorney Roger Cutler.

"This ruling will be helpful in other situations when we are doing the best we can to manage an emergency or disaster," he said.

"The state, the city and the county performed heroically in all respects during the floods of 1983. But they couldn't avoid all harm to all people. The Supreme Court recognized that," said Allan Larson, contract attorney for the state.