Appellate Court Upholds Ruling In Citrus Canker Payout

The 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach upheld a jury’s 2008 damage award that says thousands of Broward County residents whose citrus trees were destroyed by state agricultural officials at the height of the canker scare are entitled to their share of an $11 million payout.

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The canker eradication program called for the destruction of all citrus trees located within 1,900 feet of infected trees. A three-judge panel unanimously ruled that there was substantial evidence showing that healthy, privately owned trees are not harmful or destructive, even if they were found within 1,900 feet of trees with canker.

Between 2000 and early 2006, state agricultural officials destroyed more than 600,000 healthy, uninfected residential citrus trees under the program.

Terence McElroy, spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said his department plans to appeal the case to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Broward County case is just one of five related cases. Similar cases are still pending in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Lee, and Orange counties.

Source: South Florida Business Journal