Thursday, October 17, 2013

Citrus Canker Litigation Forever!


In some future decade these lawyers will have to move on to another file.

But it's only 2013.

So how's the perpetual citrus canker litigation machine proceeding in Broward?

We've had a trial and judgment and multiple appeals.

And yesterday the 4th weighed in yet again:
We address the Department‟s contention that the trial court failed to apply the correct statutory presumption of harm and burden of proof in the takings portion of the trial as well as the exclusion of scientific evidence in the compensation portion of the trial. As to the application of the statutory presumption in the takings trial, not only was the evidence establishing a taking overwhelming, thus meeting the burden of proof to overcome the presumption, the issue of a compensable taking had already been resolved in Haire v. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 870 So. 2d 774 (Fla. 2004), and Patchen v. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 906 So. 2d 1005 (Fla. 2005). We reverse, however, the compensation trial, because the trial court excluded significant scientific evidence relevant to the appraisers‟ valuation of the citrus trees.
So liability was affirmed and we will be having a new trial on damages.

According to longtime plaintiffs' counsel Bobby Gilbert, this is good news because he wants a higher valuation for the needlessly destroyed trees of thousands of Broward homeowners.
He hailed Wednesday's appeals court decision, particularly the part that affirmed his clients' right to be paid. The judges pointed to case law that says the government can only seize property without paying for it in the "narrowest of circumstances," when the property is "immediately dangerous."

"From that standpoint, once again it's a resounding defeat for the Department of Agriculture and another victory for the homeowners," Gilbert said.

As for the retrial on the award amount, he's hopeful the new jury might up the price. His appraisers valued the trees at $450 apiece, though the jury awarded $210.
Wes on the other hand called the ruling a "victory for science."

I guess we'll see (yet again) whether a Broward jury will agree (followed by the inevitable appeal).

7 comments:

  1. According to the Fourth DCA, the lawsuit was filed in 2000. It has already been litigated for 13 years, with at least 3 more years to come as the case gets re-tried and appealed by the eventual loser.

    Bobby and Wes' long-running litigation tango reminds me of the old aphorism: "If there is one lawyer in town, he will starve to death. If there are two, both will make a good living." These two keep getting paid, and no real PROgress is made. Maybe they should both run for CONgress!

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  2. One side is paying for costs and experts and transcripts and copies and not seeing a dime and the other side is getting paid richly by taxpayers to defend. Get it straight.

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  3. Right, the money the state has put toward its legal defense could have been put toward compensating the homeowners and ending this litigation. Instead, the state will likely pay its own defense fees, then pay more to the homeowners.

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  4. @Anon at October 17 -- your ignorance of how plaintiff's contingency lawyers are compensated is truly shocking for someone frequenting a law blog

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  5. 11:26 knows nothing about the business of law.

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  6. 3:18 - seems to be a common theme in the good ol' USA these days - people opining on subjects about which they know absolutely nothing. Maybe 11:26 is auditioning for the Tea Party

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  7. These drivers not giving me space better watch themselves. My spells are unpredictable and sometimes painful.

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