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California's Sixth Appellate District Court Affirms Farmers' Right to Sue for Reimbursement for Damages to Crops from Pesticide Drift, Reports Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, Inc.

Appellate court upheld ruling and damages awarded in Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, Inc. v. Western Farm Service, Inc.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, Inc. announced today that the California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District affirmed a Superior Court ruling and jury verdict in Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, Inc. v. Western Farm Service, Inc. The appellate decision supported the right of Jacobs Farm to sue pesticide applicator Western Farm Service for taking inadequate measures to prevent the post-application drift of organophosphate pesticides sprayed at a neighboring farm.

"We are grateful for this decision," said Larry Jacobs, President and CEO of Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo. "It supports existing regulations that protect farmers' crops, farm workers and the public from pesticide contamination. The appellate court rightfully saw that we have the right to be compensated for the loss of contaminated crops."

In September 2008, a Santa Cruz County jury found that the contamination of crops caused by pesticides evaporating after application is the responsibility of the applicator. The case was filed in May 2007 by Jacobs Farm against pesticide application company Western Farm Service. The lawsuit claimed that Western Farm Service sprayed toxic pesticides on crops near Jacobs Farm, and that those chemicals ultimately left residues on portions of its culinary herb crops.

Jacobs Farm sought recovery for losses that resulted from the pesticide contamination. The jury's finding for Jacobs Farm was intended to protect the farm from future inadvertent contamination by organophosphate pesticides used in the area. The jury awarded $1 Million in damages to Jacobs Farm against Western Farm Service for negligence, nuisance and trespass.

Although organophosphates are legally used and closely regulated on some crops intended for human consumption, they are not permitted on culinary herbs. Even the trace presence of the pesticides made it illegal for Jacobs Farm to sell significant portions of its 2006 and 2007 harvests from its farm at Wilder Ranch State Park.

"This was a fair decision that clarified the laws concerning applying pesticides in important ways. The decision confirmed the right of people injured or damaged by pesticide application, whether during spraying or afterwards, to seek remedies in the courts," said attorney Joel Franklin, who represented Jacobs Farm in the appeal.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center on Race, Poverty & The Environment filed "friend of the court" briefs in support of Jacobs Farm's position on the issues in the case.

About Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo ( )

Located on the California coast south of San Francisco, Jacobs Farm, founded in 1980, grows an extensive line of certified organic culinary herbs and edible flowers. In 1986, the Del Cabo project was founded to teach organic growing practices and provide funding, management and organizational skills to a cooperative of small family farms in Baja California. Jacobs Farm has six farms in Northern California and combines its production with that of Del Cabo's for year-round availability.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Dec 22, 2010
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