Constitutional Law

Jury Still Out in Fla. Citrus Tree Class Action; Millions at Stake

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The jury apparently is still out in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., class action over the destruction of more than 130,000 citrus trees in Broward County that could require the state government to pay millions of dollars in compensation to 58,000 homeowners. The jury’s deliberations, which began Monday, are being closely watched because the case could help predict what might happen in four other similar cases in other counties in the state.

Although owners have already received compensation, in the form of a $100 Wal-Mart gift card for the first destroyed tree and $55 each for any and all others, they contend that wasn’t nearly enough, explains the Miami Herald. Under the state constitution, Florida is required to pay “full compensation” for such a government taking of private property.

Many trees, which weren’t themselves diseased, were destroyed in a failed effort to eradicate citrus canker by cutting down some 16.5 million trees statewide within 1,900 feet of those that were infected, according to the newspaper and the Associated Press. The program was abandoned in 2006, after a decade.

”They destroyed beautiful trees that I painstakingly took care of for 13 years,” says Tim Farley, a Parkland landscaper whose personal trees reportedly topped 15 feet in height and were worth some $5,000. “I nurtured them. They were like a part of the family and they came in one day and destroyed them all for no reason at all.”

Additional coverage:

News-Press: “Cape Coral residents await citrus canker ruling”

Sun-Sentinel: “Jury to resume deliberations in citrus canker trial”

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