California Appellate Court Upholds Pesticide Drift Case
This week California's 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose upheld an organic herb farmer's right to sue a pesticide applicator over contamination of his crop, and let stand the $1 million award a jury handed the grower two years ago, reports San Jose Mercury News. The decision is significant, agriculture and law experts say, because it strengthens the case for organic farmers or anyone else harmed by pesticides to seek legal recourse, even if the pesticide is legally applied. While state law restricts pesticides from being sprayed on neighboring properties, which is known as pesticide drift, the law doesn't deal specifically with pesticides that disperse into the air after application and end up someplace else, as happened in this case. Attorneys for the pesticide applicator, Western Farm Service, argued that since the company had not run afoul of state law, Jacobs Farm did not have the right to sue. The Court of Appeals, in its 32-page ruling, dismissed that argument and contended that the jury could hold the pesticide company liable for tainting the organic crops at Jacobs Farm.