Tuesday April 15, 2008
The first of several huge class-action lawsuits against the state’s past Citrus Canker policy has come home to roost. The Miami Herald article deals primarily with the legal technicalities of the case, but here’s the point: The state based its decision to cut down healthy trees growing within 1,900 feet of infected trees on junk science, and didn’t sufficiently compensate owners. Well, now comes the penalty phase — we’re talking hundreds of thousands of trees, and the plaintiffs are talking as much as $5,000 per tree. Tim Farley, who’s quoted extensively in the article (and you can hear audio of him talking some more!) says the Florida citrus industry should pay, “but unfortunately that’s not how the system works.”
Actually, a tax on the citrus industry to pay compensatory damages in these cases would be just a wonderful idea. But they’re not the really really real guilty party here — industry looks after its interests, right? That’s what they do, that’s what they have lobbyists to do, that’s what we expect them to do. The real criminals here are the people that put the 1,900 foot rule into place — the government officials who failed to stand up to the industry, to stand up for residents with trees.
So, what do you do to ensure this doesn’t happen next time, with the next situation? Nothing. You take it, and the next time you take it again. There’s your moral. Now, get out there and plant some citrus trees — they only take a few years to get to fruit-bearing age.
Update: Clarifying the compensation per tree. First of all, that’s what the trial is going to determine. $5,000 is the pie-in-the-sky figure the plaintiffs are starting with, a number to be compromised from, and even then it’s intended to be the upper range. Actual amount would be determined by the size/age/value of the tree, with the majority in any case being under $1,000.comments powered by Disqus