Justia Agriculture Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court
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In this complaint seeking to have the Attorney General preliminarily and permanently enjoined from distributing monies received pursuant to an agreement between the Attorney General and Smithfield Foods, Inc. and several of its subsidiaries regarding the operation of hog farms to any recipient other than the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, the Supreme Court held that the payments contemplated by the agreement did not constitute penalties for purposes of N.C. Const. art. IX, 7. In their complaint, Plaintiffs argued that payments made pursuant to the agreement constituted penalties under article IX, section 7 and that the Attorney General lacked the authority to enter into the agreement. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the Attorney General, concluding that even if Smithfield and its subsidiaries had entered into the agreement in hope of avoiding future penalties, the payments made under the agreement were not penalties, forfeitures or fines collected for any breach of the penal laws of the State. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the payments contemplated by the agreement did not constitute penalties for purposes of article IX, section 7. View "New Hanover County Board of Education v. Stein" on Justia Law

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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