Tomato growers say eminent domain applies to 2008 crop

08/08/2013 05:24:00 PM
Coral Beach

According to the lawsuit, retailers and foodservice operators canceled orders when the FDA issued the warnings during the summer of 2008. Growers contend that tomato prices dropped from $18-$19 to $4 per box, with some growers saying they had to sell their 2008 spring tomato crop for as low as 50 cents per box.

The grower plaintiffs in addition to Williams: SK Enterprises of North Florida Inc., Butler Farms Inc., Two Feathers Farms Inc., Quality Produce LLC, Dan Jones, Circle C Produce LLC, Juniper Tomato Growers Inc., JWM Farms LLC, Jackson Farms, Flowers Farms LLC, Patterson Farm Inc., Hopkins Farms LLC, Mobley Greenhouse Investments LLC, Gregory Enterprises LLC, Townsend Brothers Farms Inc. and Murray Farms.

Two other cases were filed in recent years in South Carolina by tomato growers seeking reimbursement. Those cases included counts related to the Fifth Amendment “taking clause,” but those counts were thrown out because they are not within the regular federal courts’ jurisdictions. The two cases are still pending.

Overall, the tomato industry in Florida estimated total losses at $600 million, according to the new lawsuit. The industry in Georgia estimated tomato growers lost $100 million.

Baker said the Court of Federal Claims generally moves a little quicker than other courts in the federal system.

“A judge has already been assigned, as has an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) coordinator,” Baker said Aug. 2.

The U.S. had not yet filed a response to the tomato growers’ complaint as of Aug. 2.


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