Justia Agriculture Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Wescott Agri-Products, Inc. v. Sterling State Bank
Wescott Agri-Products, Inc., a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA)-licensed wholesale supplier of perishable agricultural commodities, sold produce to a company that later ceased business operations after Sterling State Bank seized the company's assets because it failed to make scheduled loan payments. Wescott demanded payment from the bank, claiming the bank had seized assets subject to trust under the PACA, but the bank refused. Wescott sued the bank, asserting various claims, including violations of the PACA and a conversion claim. The district court granted the bank summary judgment on Wescott's conversion claim and summary judgment in favor of Wescott on its PACA claim. Wescott then appealed the district court's denial of attorney fees on costs. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to award Wescott attorney fees and costs, as the fees were excessive and unreasonable, and Wescott's unprofessional conduct in the case did not warrant an award of fees. View "Wescott Agri-Products, Inc. v. Sterling State Bank" on Justia Law
Lesiak v. Central Valley Ag Coop., Inc.
The Lesiaks were farmers who suffered a reduced corn yield, allegedly due to the overapplication of herbicide to their crops by Central Valley Ag Cooperative, Inc. (CVA). The Lesiaks filed this action against CVA, asserting multiple theories of recovery, including negligence, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and breach of implied warranty of services. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of CVA on the implied warranty of services and negligence claims. Following the Lesiaks' presentation of their case, the district court granted CVA's motion for a directed verdict on the Lesiaks' remaining claim for breach of implied warranty of merchantability. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the district court erred in granting a directed verdict in favor of CVA as there was evidence in the record which would allow a jury to find the overapplication of the herbicide damaged the Lesiaks' fields and also to reasonably estimate the extent of the damage; and (2) the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the Lesiaks' negligence claim, as it was not barred by the economic loss doctrine. View "Lesiak v. Central Valley Ag Coop., Inc." on Justia Law
Bayer CropScience LP v. Schafer
Bayer CropScience LP developed LibertyLink Rice (LLRice), a genetically engineered rice, which Bayer subsequently used in outdoor field tests. The USDA later found that trace amounts of LLRice in the U.S. long-grain rice supply. Due to the contamination, several countries slowed or banned the import of all American rice. Appellees, several rice farmers and farming entities, sued Bayer, claiming (1) Bayer was negligent in allowing the accidental release of LLRice into the nation's rice supply by not taking adequate precautions during field trials to prevent cross-pollination or the commingling of genetically modified rice seed with conventional seed; and (2) Bayer's negligence caused economic harm by driving down the market price for American long-grain rice. The circuit court awarded $5,975,605 in compensatory damages and $42,000,0000 in punitive damages to Appellees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) ruling that Ark. Code Ann. 16-55-208, which establishes limits on awards of punitive damages, is unconstitutional; (2) concluding that Appellees' claims were not barred by the economic-loss doctrine; (3) allowing certain expert testimony; and (4) rejecting Bayer's legal argument advanced in its motion for a directed verdict. View "Bayer CropScience LP v. Schafer" on Justia Law
Adams, et al. v. United States, et al.
Plaintiffs, 134 farmers whose crops suffered as a result of the federal Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) use of the herbicide Oust, sued the federal government and Oust's manufacturer (DuPont). Both the jury and the district court allocated 60% of the fault to DuPont and 40% to the federal government. Both the government and DuPont appealed: the court resolved the government's appeal in this opinion and DuPont's appeal in a memorandum disposition filed simultaneously with this opinion. The court held that it lacked subject mater jurisdiction over plaintiffs' Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2402, claims because plaintiffs filed their lawsuit one day after the FTCA's statute of limitations had run. Therefore, the court held that the district court erred by not dismissing the claims against the federal government. View "Adams, et al. v. United States, et al." on Justia Law
Wiltz v. Bayer CropScience, L.P., et al.
Plaintiffs in this putative class action were buyers and processors of farm-raised crawfish who sought to recover their economic loss from a pesticide manufacturer under the Louisiana Products Liability Act, (LPLA), La. Rev. State. Ann. 9:2800.54. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to the manufacturer because plaintiffs' economic loss was unaccompanied by damage to their own person or property. The court held that, although plaintiffs have submitted evidence suggesting that they worked closely with crawfish farmers, plaintiffs have not submitted any evidence suggesting that the pesticide actually harmed their crawfish. The court also held that there was no evidence that plaintiffs were deprived of an actual, legal right to buy crawfish from the crawfish farmers. The court further denied plaintiffs' request to certify their proposed question to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order of summary judgment. View "Wiltz v. Bayer CropScience, L.P., et al." on Justia Law
Miguel Sanchez Osorio, et al v. Dow Chemical Company, et al
Plaintiffs sued defendants, Dow Chemical Company ("Dow") and Dole Food Company, Inc. ("Dole"), for physical and psychological injuries they sustained from exposure to a pesticide, dibromocholoropropane, Dow supplied to Dole to use on its banana plantations. At issue is whether the over $97 million judgment a Nicaraguan court awarded plaintiffs is enforceable under the Florida Uniform Out-of-country Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act ("Act"). The court affirmed the district court's holding that the Nicaraguan judgment is not due recognition and enforcement under the Act where the Nicaraguan court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and/or personal jurisdiction over the defendants, where the judgment was "rendered under a system which does not provide... procedures compatible with the requirements of due process of law" under the Act, and where recognizing the Nicaraguan judgment would be repugnant to Florida public policy.