The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s (referred to as “FTCLDF”, the “Fund” or as “we”) General Counsel Gary Cox provides the rundown on the cases he’s currently handling. Everyone represented in court by FTCLDF is a member of the organization.
For more details on the cases, see the last case updates post here.
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin denied our petition for review, without opinion. Thus, the appeals process has run its course.
We have, however, renewed our motion for reconsideration before the Circuit Court in Dane County. We have filed our motion, the State of Wisconsin has filed a response, and we have filed our reply today. The Court has scheduled an oral ruling for May 8th at 9:30 a.m.
We are making the argument that the trial court judge, Fiedler, ruled that a valid arrangement under which the owners of a milk producer’s license may purchase raw milk for themselves under the permit requires that the milk go to the “public human food chain.” Ninety percent of the milk produced by the Grassway herd goes to the public human food chain, thus, the arrangement devised by the Craigs and GrassWay Organics should be valid and should allow for the owners of the milk producer’s license to purchase milk under the license.
However, Judge Fiedler believed, erroneously, that 0% of the Grassway milk goes to the public human food chain. Thus, Judge Fiedler ruled against the Grassway parties. We are asking the Court to reconsider its decision because 90% of the milk goes to the public human food chain.
We are expecting a ruling on the motion to reconsider before the end of May.
Jeremiah and Jessica Hudson
This case remains pending before the Michigan Court of Appeals. The parties have fully briefed the matter and now the Court of Appeals has scheduled oral argument for May 5th at 11:00 a.m. We did not ask for oral argument as the issue is clear, the evidence is not “weighed” or the “credibility” of the witnesses are not evaluated pursuant to a motion for summary disposition (summary judgment). Our approach was not to waste the time of the Court of Appeals. The Township, however, has asked for oral argument. We will attend the oral argument to see what the Township attorney has to say.
We expect a ruling from the Court of Appeals before the end of June.
The complaint in this overspray case has been filed and the defendant has denied all liability. We allege in our complaint that the chemical applicator was negligent, violated state law and thus committed negligence per se, committed a trespass onto the client’s property, and also claimed res ispa loquitor (the thing speaks for itself).
The parties are in the discovery phase now, yet we still are willing to discuss a settlement of the matter. We anticipate the case will go to trial sometime in 2016.
This case remains pending before the Colorado Court of Appeals. The parties have fully briefed the matter and the Court of Appeals has scheduled oral argument for April 28th at 1:30 pm. We expect that a ruling from the Court of Appeals will be issued sometime before the end of June.
|FTCLDF General Counsel, Gary Cox|
This matter is basically closed except for one remaining claim. The Township’s two claims of having an illegal fence on the property have been resolved. The remaining claim for having rabbits and chickens closer than 30 feet to the property line is pending in the Third Circuit Court (Detroit). The Circuit Court had initially denied Ms. Taylor’s appeal on the rabbit/chicken issue yet we filed a motion to reconsider. That motion to reconsider is pending before the Circuit Court.
We have filed the complaint, the Defendant has answered and the parties have exchanged initial disclosures regarding discovery. We have also sent opposing counsel our initial settlement demand and are waiting on a response. We have also sent opposing counsel a DVD that contains dozens of photographs and other documentary evidence, and have provided website links to videos that Ms. Seibold has taken of the illegal overspraying incident.
The Court has issued a scheduling order requiring the identification of experts and the submission of expert reports by April 22nd. We have identified four experts who will be testifying on various aspects of the Seibold case. We are in the process of retaining these experts (or others if these do not pan out). Discovery deadline is July 17th with a trial date of September 29th.
The District Court ruled against Ms. Kerr after a hearing, so we filed a motion for a new trial. The Township also filed a motion to amend the judgment. Both motions were heard by the District Court; our motion was denied, and the Township’s motion was granted. The parties have until April 15th to submit a modified judgment entry. The entry must state that Ms. Kerr has until June to pay any fine and to remove any remaining horses. We anticipate that once the modified judgment entry is finalized we will appeal to the Circuit Court, and then ask both the District and Circuit Courts for stays.
Anthony has filed a complaint in declaratory judgment yet has not asked the clerk’s office to serve the complaint on the defendant. Anthony wants us to review the complaint and see if it should be amended and filed. However, the current complaint names several of his neighbors and also his wife as plaintiffs. Some of the neighbors have joined the Fund and have asked for representation, yet other neighbors have not. Those other neighbors need to join the Fund and ask for representation.
Local counsel and I, Gary Cox, have conducted research into the issue of spot zoning, have reviewed the complaint that was previously filed, and are researching the issue of having the filed complaint served within one year. At the conclusion of that research and the identification of the proper plaintiffs and clients, we will be in a position to serve the proper defendants and initiate the case.
Eldon is a Texas farmer who sells raw milk via deliveries to consumers. Eldon has been charged by the City of Fort Worth with operating a retail food establishment and with selling an unauthorized dairy product.
Eldon’s case was originally scheduled for trial in the SW Municipal Court of Fort Worth yet that case has been indefinitely continued. I have spoken with the prosecutor and have advised her that I will be representing Eldon in the matter. I have obtained local counsel, and we are waiting on the trial court to reschedule the trial date.
Neil raises hogs and veal and occasionally uses a local slaughterhouse for his animals. Neil sells directly to consumers and a restaurant in the area. One time, the slaughterhouse did not return to Neil the organ meats he requested, did not slaughter all of the animals, and did not return all of the meat to Neil as requested. Neil put a stop payment on the check he issued to the slaughterhouse and the slaughterhouse brought an action in small claims court for the amount of the check.
The slaughterhouse claimed to one of Neil’s customers (the restaurant) that Neil passed a bad check, that the animals were contaminated with pneumonia, and that the restaurant should no longer do business with Neil. In the small claims action, Neil counter claimed with a slander claim.
The slaughterhouse has filed an amended small claims complaint, and a trial is scheduled for April 24th. I have entered an appearance on behalf of Neil and plan on filing an answer with counter claims and defenses to the amended complaint. Opposing counsel has indicated he will be filing a motion to continue the trial date as he is on vacation that week.
Wendy Uhlman and Steve Zievernik
Wendy and Steve own a parcel located in Michigan. They are attempting to farm the parcel and have received a notice from the Township that a fence they have erected and a trailer they have placed on the property constitute a violation of local zoning ordinances. They also have an issue with the way their property is being taxed by the tax assessor’s office.
Their property is zoned agricultural yet for tax purposes the parcel has been assigned a residential status. I have spoken with the clients and have suggested to them they contact Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and ask for an inspection to determine whether their farming operations are in compliance with any applicable “generally accepted agricultural management practices” (GAAMPs). I have also advised them to work with the tax assessor to have the tax status switched back from residential to agricultural.
At this time, no charges have been brought against the clients for zoning violations. We will be responding to the township attorney’s letter.
Did you miss the last case update? Read it here.
YOUR FUND AT WORK
Services provided by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) go beyond providing legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and Political Action Services also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts, social media outreach, and the online petition service.
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