Citrus Canker Suit
A verdict was handed down yesterday.
Mendez, who led a Palm Beach County class-action suit of more than 40,000 homeowners whose citrus trees were destroyed as part of an aggressive state eradication against citrus canker to save the state's top industry, won his case for compensation.First, I was one of those people who lost trees and plants due to the 1,900 feet rule. So take that into consideration.
County Judge Robin Rosenberg ruled that 40,937 homeowners who saw 66,468 trees destroyed in a program that ultimately failed to stop the spread of citrus canker are due "just and fair compensation" under the state constitution.
The Palm Beach County class-action suit, argued in court in October, is the first of a string of similar lawsuits. One is being tried in Broward County, and more will be heard later this year in Lee, Miami-Dade and Orange counties.
Under a January 2002 law, the government removed all citrus trees, whether they were healthy or infected, within 1,900 feet of any tree testing positive for the canker, a bacterial disease that creates lesions on fruit and stems that makes the fruit unmarketable. The government compensated residents with a $100 voucher for the first tree and $55 for each additional tree.
The next thing to happen will be a jury trial in March to determine compensation for people like myself. I don't expect any windfall, and other Palm Beach County residents shouldn't either. Class Action lawsuits bring plenty of money in for the lawyers and rarely anything of note for defendants. I don't expect this suit to be any different.
Bottom line- People may get a pittance for their lost trees, but will it make up for the costs passed on to taxpayers by this suit and others that will follow?
Linked to- Bright & Early, Bullwinkle, Morewhat,