A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions to: camarigg at uark.edu


JUDICIAL: Includes labor, tax, garnishment, and negligence issues.

In Santacruz v. Southbank Dairies, LLC, No. C16-5200 RJB, 2016 WL 6094826, (W.D. Wash. Oct. 19, 2016), plaintiffs claimed they suffered uncompensated physical injuries while employed at defendant’s dairy farm. Plaintiffs sued under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and for “deliberate intent to injure/personal injury,” among a host of claims. Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiffs’ “deliberate intent to injure/personal injury” claim. Court observed that under Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act, “Employers are not immune from suit . . . ‘[i]f injury results to a worker from the deliberate intention of his or her employer to produce such injury.’” Plaintiffs’ claimed “Defendants had actual knowledge that injury to Plaintiffs was certain to occur when Defendants ‘willfully deprived them [of] required health and safety protections, including information about their rights.’” The court considered “whether intentionally concealing workers’ compensation information and not reporting workplace accidents…may make out a claim for a separate and compensable personal injury subject to the deliberate harm exemption in the Industrial Welfare Act.” Court did not find defendant had actual knowledge plaintiffs would be injured and granted motion to dismiss.

In UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. FRANKIE L. SANDERS & STATE OF ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Defendants., No. 11-CV-912-NJR-DGW, 2016 WL 6124931, at *1 (S.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2016), defendant, a self-employed farmer, had not filed federal income tax returns or paid federal income taxes since 1991. Government filed collection lawsuit seeking to satisfy plaintiff’s tax debt by selling his two family farms. It was undisputed that defendant had not paid any taxes owed and the court acknowledged “the critical question in this case is whether that property includes the Fayette farm and the Montgomery farm. To answer this question, the Court must determine whether Frankie Sanders had any rights to the farms.” The court noted that “Federal tax liens attach to property belonging to the taxpayer and also to property held by the taxpayer’s nominees.” Court determined defendant had ownership interest in farms at issue and the federal tax liens attached to the properties.

In Poindexter v. Stuteville, No. CIV-16-828-D, 2016 WL 6156326, at *1 (W.D. Okla. Oct. 21, 2016), plaintiff issued a state court garnishment summons to USDA based on money judgment against defendant. Plaintiff argued in support of garnishment that USDA Farm Service Agency was indebted to defendant or controlled non-exempt property belonging to him. U.S. government moved to quash garnishment summons on USDA’s behalf and dismiss proceeding based on federal sovereign immunity. USDA argued defendant could receive payments from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), but that “it is an instrumentality of the Consolidated Farm Service Agency and statutorily protected from a garnishment action.” Court considered whether CCC payments are subject to garnishment or protected by sovereign immunity and declared plaintiff “failed to establish a waiver of sovereign immunity and no jurisdiction exists for a garnishment action against the USDA.” United States’ motion to quash granted.

B&H Farms, LLC v. Winfield Sols., LLC, No. 216CV323FTM99MRM, 2016 WL 6138625, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 21, 2016) concerned negligence claim involving defendant’s alleged defective fumigant delivery tanks. Plaintiff claimed defendant knew plaintiff would apply fumigant with tanks owned and maintained by defendant, and accordingly “owed a duty to provide [tanks] that would adequately and appropriately deliver the Soil Fumigant to B&H’s fields without causing damage.” Defendant argued “plaintiff’s negligence claim is barred as a matter of law by the Florida economic loss rule.” However, the court ruled that “Since the Amended Complaint does not allege a products liability claim, the economic loss rule does not bar the claim.” Defendant’s motion to dismiss denied.


REGULATORY: Includes AMS, EPA, ITA, NHTSA, and NOAA rules and notices.

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICERule implementing a recommendation from the Texas Valley Citrus Committee for an increase of the assessment rate established for the 2016-17 and subsequent fiscal periods from $0.08 to $0.09 per 7/10-bushel carton or equivalent of oranges and grapefruit handled under the marketing order. Info here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:

Rule EPA and NHTSA are establishing rules for a comprehensive Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption from new on-road medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and engines. Details here.

Rule establishing a tolerance for residues of spirotetramat in or on asparagus. Bayer CropScience LP requested this tolerance under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Info here.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATIONNotice the Department of Commerce has conducted a new shipper review of Jinxiang Huameng Imp & Exp Co., Ltd. regarding the antidumping duty order on fresh garlic from China. Details here.

NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATIONRule EPA and NHTSA are establishing rules for a comprehensive Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption from new on-road medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and engines. Details here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:

Notice Department of Commerce invites comment on proposed information collections. Data collection for Amendment 5 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan requires renewal of Category E permits for limited access herring permit holders. Details here.

Notice Department of Commerce invites comment on proposed information collections. This collection requires vessel trip reports to be submitted weekly for all mackerel, squid, and butterfish permit holders. Info here.