Court Rules Drifting Pesticide Could Count as Trepassing
The Minnesota state Court of Appeals ruled today that pesticide drifting from its intended farm onto an adjacent Stearns County organic farm could be considered a trespassing violation by the company that sprayed the pesticide.
The appellate court ruling reinstates a lawsuit filed by Oluf and Debra Johnson against Paynesville Farmers Union Oil Company. In the suit, the Johnsons claimed that chemical drift due to overspraying and negligent practices in four separate instances by the co-op resulted in damaged crops on the organic farm. The St. Cloud Times is reporting that the Johnsons had to sell those crops at lower, non-organic prices, and were not able to use certain fields for up to three years afterward.
While the original suit was dismissed, the Court of Appeals opinion decided that the pesticide drift did, indeed, constitute trespassing because it met two criteria- the Johnsons had rightful possession of their fields, and the co-op’s unlawful spraying of the pesticide constitutes trespassing.
While there is no case law study defining this particular situation, the Court of Appeals cited opinions in Alaska and Washington, in which pesticide drift did constitute trespassing. The case now goes back to district court for more hearings.