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Defendant may not enforce several limitation of remedies clauses against Plaintiffs, several commercial farmers in North Carolina, in defense of lawsuits premised on Defendant’s distribution of allegedly mislabeled tobacco seed. Defendant was in the business of breeding, developing, and producing tobacco seeds. Plaintiffs filed suits that were eventually consolidated alleging that Defendant had sold them mislabeled, certified tobacco seed for planting. Defendant argued in response that in accordance with the limitation of remedies clause on each container of seed, Plaintiffs’ alleged damages were “limited to repayment of the purchase price of the seed.” The Business Court denied Defendants’ motions for partial summary judgment on the grounds that limitation of remedies clauses appearing on the labels of mislabeled seed must fail by virtue of public policy, as expressed by the General Assembly in the North Carolina Seed Law of 1963, to protect farmers from the potentially devastating consequences of planting mislabeled seed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s limitation of remedies clauses were unenforceable against Plaintiffs. View "Kornegay Family Farms LLC v. Cross Creek Seed, Inc." on Justia Law

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Bremer Bank, the Public Service Commission ("PSC"), Auto-Owners Insurance Company, and Curt Amundson appealed a judgment in a grain warehouse insolvency proceeding involving Grand Forks Bean Company after the district court appointed the PSC as trustee for the sale of dry edible beans from Grand Forks Bean's warehouse, denied Bremer's motion to intervene in the insolvency proceeding, and ordered distribution of the proceeds of the sale of the beans to growers determined to be noncredit-sale receiptholders. We conclude the district court did not err in construing applicable statutory provisions for insolvency proceedings and in applying those provisions. The PSC initially issued a trustee's report concluding all nine bean growers were noncredit-sale receiptholders entitled to participate in the trust fund proceeds and recommending payment of $652,747.92 to those receiptholders based on a December 2014 insolvency date and a market price of $23 per hundredweight on that date. The court ruled eight of the bean growers were noncredit-sale receiptholders entitled to participate in the insolvency trust fund proceeds. The court concluded one grower, Amundson, had a credit-sale contract with Grand Forks Bean under N.D.C.C. 60-04-01(2) and was not entitled to participate in the trust fund proceeds. The court also determined the date of Grand Forks Bean's insolvency under N.D.C.C. 60-04-02 was October 15, 2013, and the market price for beans on that date was $38 per hundredweight. The court determined three growers were entitled to a different price per hundredweight for their beans because they had cash claims with Grand Forks Bean for an agreed price. The court further concluded the PSC was entitled to its costs and expenses under N.D.C.C. sections 60-04-03.1, 60-04-09, and 60-04-10. The court ordered disbursement of the trust fund proceeds and thereafter issued an order denying Auto-Owner's motion for post-hearing relief. The district court denied without prejudice Bremer's motion to intervene to litigate the priority of its security interest, but allowed Bremer to participate in the proceeding "to the full extent provided to any other receiptholder/claimant." Amundson argued the district court erred in concluding he had a credit-sale contract with Grand Forks Bean because the definition of a credit-sale contract in N.D.C.C. 60-02-19.1 controls and required signatures by both the grower and the warehouseman to be a credit-sale contract. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Public Service Commission v. Grand Forks Bean Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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USI petitioned for review of the FSIS's determination that the packaging used by USI was misbranded under the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1907 (FMIA), 21 U.S.C. 601 et seq., because its label included the FSIS inspection identification number of its supplier without the latter's permission. The D.C. Circuit denied the petition for review and held that FSIS's determination that USI's labeling was misleading was neither arbitrary nor capricious where the Administrator noted that the FSIS permits a re-boxer to use its supplier's establishment number only if the supplier consents to the practice, and USI had not provided document as requested, showing consent of the official establishment. View "United Source One, Inc. v. US Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

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The plain language of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 3-1261(B), which provides that no two brands of the same design or figure shall be adopted or recorded, precluded the Arizona Department of Agriculture (Department) from recording “two brands of the same design or figure” regardless of their location. The Department in this case allowed Eureka Springs to record a “bar seven” brand, even though it was identical to a previously recorded brand owned by David Stambaugh, because it was placed on a different location on the cattle. Stambaugh sued the Department. The superior court granted summary judgment in part for the Department, concluding that section 3-1261 gave the Department discretion to consider the location of a brand on an animal in determining whether two brands are of the same design or figure. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that section 3-1261(B) is ambiguous. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute was unambiguous and precluded the Department from adopting or recording identical brands. View "Stambaugh v. Killian" on Justia Law

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The plain language of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 3-1261(B), which provides that no two brands of the same design or figure shall be adopted or recorded, precluded the Arizona Department of Agriculture (Department) from recording “two brands of the same design or figure” regardless of their location. The Department in this case allowed Eureka Springs to record a “bar seven” brand, even though it was identical to a previously recorded brand owned by David Stambaugh, because it was placed on a different location on the cattle. Stambaugh sued the Department. The superior court granted summary judgment in part for the Department, concluding that section 3-1261 gave the Department discretion to consider the location of a brand on an animal in determining whether two brands are of the same design or figure. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that section 3-1261(B) is ambiguous. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute was unambiguous and precluded the Department from adopting or recording identical brands. View "Stambaugh v. Killian" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an African American farmer, filed suit against the USDA and others, alleging racial discrimination, retaliation, and conspiracy regarding his loan applications, servicing requests, and the application of administrative offsets to collect on a defaulted loan. The district court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's conclusions that plaintiff's Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. 1691 et seq., claims were barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel because the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights could not bar subsequent federal litigation; the individual defendants have not demonstrated that plaintiff failed to state an ECOA claim against them where the complaint included sufficient allegations from which one could plausibly infer that the individual defendants qualified as creditors under the ECOA; the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's Bivens claims against the individual defendants in their individual capacities because his constitutional claims were not barred by a comprehensive remedial scheme; and plaintiff failed to state a claim for conspiracy against the individual defendants. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Johnson v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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The Animal Welfare Act does not directly address license renewal but does expressly authorize the USDA to promulgate and implement its own renewal standards. PETA filed suit challenging the license renewal process for animal exhibitors promulgated by the USDA through which the USDA may renew such license despite a licensee's noncompliance with the Act. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the USDA's Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court agreed with the Eleventh Circuit that the Act's licensing regulations embody a reasonable accommodation of the conflicting policy interests Congress has delegated to the USDA and were entitled to Chevron deference. View "PETA v. USDA" on Justia Law

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This consolidated action began as four separate lawsuits arising from transactions involving a dairy operation. This appeal focused on the claims asserted by Jack McCall against Max Silva personally. Max Silva appeals from the judgment of the district court in Twin Falls County finding him personally liable for the purchase of 116 dairy cows. After a bench trial, the district court found Silva personally liable for the purchase of the cows and dismissed the other claims against him. Silva contended that the district court erred when it found him personally liable for the purchase. Silva also argued that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to award him attorney fees proportionate to the claims on which he prevailed at trial. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "McCall v. Silva" on Justia Law

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Plainitffs appealed when their claims against a person who sold a steer for slaughter were dismissed. The steer was later found to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Patty Anderson agreed to sell a 4-H steer for her eighteen-year-old granddaughter. Joseph Deiter purchased one-half of the steer. Anderson contacted Donald Janak, who owned a mobile slaughtering business. He was asked to slaughter the steer for Deiter, and to deliver the carcass to Don’s Meats, which was a custom meat processing business that was owned and operated by Donald and Sharon Coons and their daughter Penny Coons. Janak slaughtered and skinned the steer, cut the carcass in half down the middle, and delivered the two halves of the carcass to Don’s Meats, where the meat was processed. After eating the meat, the members of the Deiter family became ill due to becoming infected with E. coli bacteria. The Deiters filed suit against Anderson, Janak and his corporation, and the Coonses. Anderson successfully moved for summary judgment as to the claims against her. The Coonses also successfully moved for summary judgment. The Deiters settled with Janak, and they appealed the judgment in favor of Anderson and the Coonses. The Deiters argued to the district court that Anderson and the Coonses violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act because she sold or offered for sale, in commerce, articles which were capable for use as human food and which were adulterated at the time of the sale or offer for sale as proscribed by 21 U.S.C. 610(c). Finding that the Deiters did not show any genuine issue of material fact with respect to the grant of summary judgment to Anderson or the Coonses, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of claims against those parties. View "Deiter v. Coons" on Justia Law

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Until 2000, Sonoma County grape growers could plant or replant a vineyard “as a matter of right” without governmental approval. A 2000 ordinance, governing “grading, drainage improvement, and vineyard and orchard site development within the unincorporated area of the county” requires growers, other than hobbyists, to obtain an erosion-control permit from the Agricultural Commissioner before establishing or replanting a vineyard. An applicant must submit plans demonstrating compliance with certain directives and must accept certain ongoing agricultural practices. The Commissioner issued the Ohlsons a permit to establish a vineyard on land they own that was being used for grazing, finding that issuing the permit was a ministerial act, exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, Public Resources Code 21000 (CEQA). The trial court agreed. The court of appeal affirmed. Although the ordinance may allow the Commissioner to exercise discretion when issuing erosion-control permits in some circumstances, the objectors did not show that the Commissioner improperly determined that issuing the Ohlsons’ permit was ministerial. Most of the ordinance’s provisions that potentially confer discretion did not apply to their project, and the objectors failed to show that the few that might apply conferred the ability to mitigate potential environmental impacts to any meaningful degree. View "Sierra Club v. County of Sonoma" on Justia Law