The Supreme Court today upheld the rights of citizens to sue for damages caused by pesticides, after Dow Chemical Company and the Bush Administration argued that the chemical industry should be shielded from such litigation. The Bush Administration filed a brief in support of Dow Chemical, arguing against the rights of citizens who are poisoned or damaged from pesticide use.



The case, Bates et al v. Dow AgroSciences LLC, involves Texas peanut farmers who argued that the Dow herbicide Strongarm (diclosulam) ruined their crops, but were prevented from suing after Dow successfully argued in a lower District court that registration of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) insulates it from citizen suits, or preempts litigation.



The court decision reads, "The long history of tort litigation against manufacturers of poisonous substances adds force to the presumption against pre-emption, for Congress surely would have expressed its intention more clearly if it had meant to deprive injured parties of a long available form of compensation." The decision continues, "Moreover, this history emphasizes the importance of providing an incentive to manufacturers to use the utmost care in distributing inherently dangerous items. Private remedies that enforce federal misbranding requirements would seem to aid, rather than hinder, the function of FIFRA."



See decision at http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/27apr20050800/www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/04pdf/03-388.pdf.



Source: PRNewswire