In Case of Spoiled Peaches, Court Sides With Grower
According to a report on Law.com, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a verdict of $150,000 in loss of spoiled fruit and $272,000 in attorney fees for Fitzgerald Fruit Farms’ Sean Lennon.
Lennon worked for Carroll Farms and had been growing ‘Baby Gold’ peaches on 20 acres within Carroll Farms for the last 12 years.
In 2015, Carroll Farms – including the 20 acres where Lennon farmed — was sold to Whitaker Farms.
The report says on Aug. 3, 2016, Lennon and his workers moved equipment into their orchard to prepare for harvest. The next day, as crews were harvesting, they noticed gates marking the 20-acre plot were locked. Trapping the workers inside with the peaches.
Crews alerted Lennon to this issue, who contacted the new landowner, Curtis Whitaker, who never returned Lennon’s call.
According to court documents, Lennon was able to secure an order from a judge to have the local sheriff cut the lock. A day later, the orchard was locked again. Lennon eventually won a court order to get workers back in to pick.
But, by that point, the damage was done and Lennon’s crop was spoiled.
According to testimony, Lennon said he met Whitaker in January 2017 to settle the issue. But Whitaker refused.
Judge Trent Brown says Lennon’s legal team can go back to Meriwether County Superior Court Judge Jack Kirby and seek punitive damages from Whitaker.