Articles Posted in Agriculture Law

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This consolidated action began as four separate lawsuits arising from transactions involving a dairy operation. This appeal focused on the claims asserted by Jack McCall against Max Silva personally. Max Silva appeals from the judgment of the district court in Twin Falls County finding him personally liable for the purchase of 116 dairy cows. After a bench trial, the district court found Silva personally liable for the purchase of the cows and dismissed the other claims against him. Silva contended that the district court erred when it found him personally liable for the purchase. Silva also argued that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to award him attorney fees proportionate to the claims on which he prevailed at trial. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "McCall v. Silva" on Justia Law

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Plainitffs appealed when their claims against a person who sold a steer for slaughter were dismissed. The steer was later found to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Patty Anderson agreed to sell a 4-H steer for her eighteen-year-old granddaughter. Joseph Deiter purchased one-half of the steer. Anderson contacted Donald Janak, who owned a mobile slaughtering business. He was asked to slaughter the steer for Deiter, and to deliver the carcass to Don’s Meats, which was a custom meat processing business that was owned and operated by Donald and Sharon Coons and their daughter Penny Coons. Janak slaughtered and skinned the steer, cut the carcass in half down the middle, and delivered the two halves of the carcass to Don’s Meats, where the meat was processed. After eating the meat, the members of the Deiter family became ill due to becoming infected with E. coli bacteria. The Deiters filed suit against Anderson, Janak and his corporation, and the Coonses. Anderson successfully moved for summary judgment as to the claims against her. The Coonses also successfully moved for summary judgment. The Deiters settled with Janak, and they appealed the judgment in favor of Anderson and the Coonses. The Deiters argued to the district court that Anderson and the Coonses violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act because she sold or offered for sale, in commerce, articles which were capable for use as human food and which were adulterated at the time of the sale or offer for sale as proscribed by 21 U.S.C. 610(c). Finding that the Deiters did not show any genuine issue of material fact with respect to the grant of summary judgment to Anderson or the Coonses, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of claims against those parties. View "Deiter v. Coons" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was a contract dispute between Silver Creek Seed, LLC and Sunrain Varieties, LLC, arising from the development of Bacterial Ring Rot (“BRR”) in two of the potato varieties grown by Silver Creek for Sunrain. After a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict awarding damages to Silver Creek. Sunrain appealed: (1) the district court’s denial of a motion to reconsider an order granting partial summary judgment to Silver Creek; (2) the exclusion of the back side of the Idaho Crop Improvement Association (“ICIA”) blue tag from evidence; (3) the admission of testimony relating to the source of the BRR; (4) alleged errors in jury instructions; (5) the award of prejudgment interest to Silver Creek and (6) the award of attorney fees and costs to Silver Creek. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Silver Creek Seed v. Sunrain Varieties" on Justia Law

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Vernon Smith appeals the district court’s award of attorney fees to Treasure Valley Seed Company, LLC and its owner Don Tolmie (collectively TVSC). This case arose out of a contract for the sale of lima beans between Victoria H. Smith and TVSC. In 2013, Victoria’s son, Vernon, filed a complaint against TVSC alleging claims for breach of the lima beans contract. As plaintiff, the complaint named “VICTORIA H. SMITH, by and through her attorney in fact, Vernon K. Smith, by and through his Durable and Irrevocable Power of Attorney.” In 2014, TVSC learned Victoria had died on September 11, 2013—roughly three months before the complaint was filed. TVSC then moved to dismiss the complaint, contending there was no real party in interest. Vernon responded and argued he was the real party in interest because of his durable and irrevocable power of attorney. The district court concluded Vernon’s power of attorney had terminated at Victoria’s death. Further, the district court reasoned that because no personal representative had been appointed through probate, there was no real party in interest. Accordingly, the district court granted TVSC’s motion to dismiss. Vernon appealed. The Supreme Court found, after review of this matter: (1) there was indeed a real party in interest; and (2) the district court erred by assessing attorney fees jointly and severally against Victoria and Vernon. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Smith v. Treasure Valley Seed Co." on Justia Law

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James and Barbara Hilliard (Vendors) owned a farm in Owyhee County with approximately 3,000 acres of farmable land. They executed written leases of the best farm ground to various farmers who grew row crops. They orally leased to John Clark other portions of the farm, on which he raised hay and grain crops. In 2009 and 2010, Vendors leased the row crop portion of the farm to Lance Funk Farms, LLC. Because of his health, on John Clark became unable to continue farming, and Vendors orally leased to his son Jay P. Clark, Vendors’ attorney, those parts of the farm not leased for growing row crops. According to Vendors, in January 2010 Jay Clark fraudulently obtained a written document purporting to give him a one-year lease of the entire farm with an option to extend the lease for a period of ten years. He then recorded the document in the records of the county recorder, and in June 2010 his father recorded a document claiming to have a 10% interest in the farm. These recordings created clouds on the Vendors’ title to the farm. In November 2010, Vendors contracted to sell their farm to Murphy Land Company, LLC (Purchaser). Jay Clark told Purchaser that he would only vacate the farm upon payment to him of $2,000,000 and payment to his father of $950,000. Because of the two clouds on the title and the refusal of Jay Clark to vacate the property, the parties entered into an amendment to their contract which stated, among other things, that $3,000,000 of the sale price would be held in trust to “be available to the extent determined by a court of competent jurisdiction of the purchaser’s damage, if any, for loss or delay of possession of real estate purchased herein.” The sale closed on December 30, 2010. In early 2011, Vendors sued Jay and John Clark, and obtained a judgment declaring Jay Clark’s purported lease null and void and ordering that John Clark’s recorded claim to ownership of a 10% interest in the farm be expunged from the county records. Then Purchaser filed a lawsuit to have Jay Clark removed from the farm. Clark fought that lawsuit, including filing for bankruptcy protection after Purchaser was granted summary judgment in its action to remove him from the farm. As a result, Purchaser did not obtain possession of the farm until May 2012. In 2013, Vendors filed this action for a declaratory judgment that they were entitled to a $3,000,000 being held in trust. Purchaser filed a counterclaim seeking that sum for the damages it incurred due to the delay in being able to obtain possession of the farm. The district court granted summary judgment to the purchaser after holding that the material portions of the affidavits filed by the vendors in opposition to summary judgment were inadmissible. Finding no error with that judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court and awarded attorney fees on appeal. View "Hilliard v. Murphy Land Co." on Justia Law