Butler Market Gardens v. Burrell

VSC 768
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Final judgment
Australia, Melbourne

Farmers
Butler Market Gardens Pty Ltd
GG & PM Burrell Pty Ltd
DA Klempfner, JR Anthony-Shaw

Civil court
Herbicide, SpraySeed, Valor
Damages for negligence and nuisance due to the drift of a pesticide spray organized by Burrell on Butler Market Gardens' spring onion crop.
Supreme Court of Victoria of Melbourne, Australia
Appellate (Appeal) Court

December 10, 2018
Positive
Burrell is ordered to pay Butler Market Gardens damages in the amount of AU$1,346,570.
National law

An onion farmer blames his neighbor, an alfalfa farmer, for substantial loss of his crop due to the off-label use of two herbicides, SpaySeed and Valor, at vastly excessive rates. Butler Market Gardens (BMG) leased land from Burrell in July and August 2014 to grow spring onions. In July 2014, Burrell hired a contractor to spray the adjacent land. All of the onion crops were then damaged and most were not marketable anymore. Since BMG was able to provide clear evidence of the condition of the crop just prior to the spray drift event, that he called in an agricultural expert after the event, that the use of the chemicals was contrary to the manufacturer's recommendations, and that the proper permits (which could have authorized non-compliant use) had not been obtained, that Burrell's instructions to the contractor were inadequate and there was a lack of supervision, that no precautions were taken to account for wind, including stopping the spraying during the windiest times of the day, Burrell's negligence and nuisance are established. The Supreme Court of the State of Victoria ordered Burrell to pay damages of AUS $1,346,570.