Photo of two men standing in a field with power line behind them. Pacific Legal Foundation
Brothers Jeff Duarte, left, and John Duarte, right. Jeff is the current vice president and director of operations for Duarte Nursery. John is the president of Duarte Nursery.

Settlement reached in Duarte Nursery suit

Duarte doesn't admit liability, pays civil penalty.

Duarte Nursery has agreed to a settlement with the federal government regarding its plowing of land to plant wheat in 2012.

“Under the agreement, Duarte would admit no liability, pay the government $330,000 in a civil penalty, purchase $770,000 worth of vernal pool mitigation credits, and perform additional work on the site of the plowing," said Pacific Legal Foundation Senior Attorney Tony Francois, who represents Duarte.

“This has been a difficult decision for me, my family, and the entire company, and we have come to it reluctantly,” said John Duarte. “But given the risks posed by further trial on the government’s request for up to $45 million in penalties, and the catastrophic impact that any significant fraction of that would have on our business, our hundreds of employees, our customers and suppliers, and all the members of my family, this was the best action I could take to protect those for whom I am responsible.”

“John would have preferred to see this case through to trial and appealed the court’s liability ruling, which holds that plowing a field requires federal permission — despite the clear text of the Clean Water Act and regulations to the contrary,” said Francois. “John and his counsel remain concerned that legal liability for farming without federal permission undermines the clear protections that the Clean Water Act affords to farming and poses a significant ongoing threat to farmers across the nation.” 

The court will hold a hearing in approximately 45 days to approve the settlement.

The case is Army Corps of Engineers v. Duarte Nursery. More information, including a copy of the settlement, a video, and a blog post, is available at:

Source: Pacific Legal Foundation

TAGS: Water
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