A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.
JUDICIAL: Pesticides, Labor
In Hahn v. Monsanto Co., No. 20-3663, 2022 WL 2506832 (8th Cir. July 7, 2022), the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed an appeal brought by Monsanto and BASF awarding compensatory and punitive damages to plaintiff. The court affirmed the district courts refusal to find intervening cause as a matter of law or give an affirmative converse on that issue. The court also found that the district court properly instructed the jury to measure compensatory damages by lost profit rather than land value. However, the court did find that the record did not support a finding that BASF “had any voice, much less an equal one” over the critical aspects of the enterprise and plaintiff’s joint-venture claim failed as a matter of law. The court did find that BASF and Monsanto participated in a conspiracy thereby making BASF jointly and severally liable for plaintiff’s actual damages.
Monsanto and BASF the challenged the punitive damages, arguing that they are not allowed to be submitted to the jury. The court found that Monsanto and BASF acted with reckless indifference which allowed the submission of punitive damages to the jury. However, the court did find that the district court should have instructed the jury to “separately assess” punitive damages against Monsanto and BASF. The court vacated the punitive damages award and remanded the case with the instruction to hold a new trial only on the issue of punitive damages.
In Glenn v. Tyson Foods, Inc., No. 21-11110, 2022 WL 2525724 (5th Cir. July 7, 2022), the court affirmed the district courts decision to remand the cases to state court. The plaintiffs in each action filed suit in Texas state courts. Tyson removed both cases to federal district court: Glenn to the Eastern District of Texas, and Chavez to the Northern District of Texas. Both district courts granted the plaintiffs’ motions to remand. Tyson appealed only the district courts’ holdings that the federal officer removal statute was inapplicable, forfeiting federal question jurisdiction. The cases were consolidated on appeal.
Tyson argued that it was “acting under” the directions of a federal superior because, from the earliest days of the pandemic, various federal officers directed it and other food suppliers to continue operations to avoid a nationwide food shortage. But court found that the record did not support Tyson’s position. The federal government’s guidance to “critical infrastructure” industries was nonbinding. Tyson did not show that it was “acting under” a federal officer’s directions, so the court did not consider whether it met the remaining elements of the federal officer removal statute. The district courts’ judgments were AFFIRMED.
REGULATORY: AMS, USDA, APHIS, FAS
AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE
Notice announcing that AMS is proposing a new internal process for evaluating and approving technology used in official grain inspection. AMS is seeking public comment on the proposed process. Info here.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Proposed rule announcing that the USDA is proposing to amend its Privacy Act regulations to exempt a system of records from certain provisions of the Privacy Act. Info here.
ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE
Notice announcing that APHIS proposes to add a system of records to its inventory of records systems subject to the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. Info here.
FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE
Notice announcing the establishment of the Fiscal Year 2023 (October 1, 2022-September 30, 2023) in-quota aggregate quantity of raw cane sugar at 1,117,195 metric tons raw value. Info here.
Notice of an increase in the fiscal year 2022 raw cane sugar tariff-rate quota of 90,718 metric tons raw value and an extension of the TRQ entry period. Info here.