A federal court in South Carolina has dismissed three of four claims in a lawsuit filed by a family farming operation that claims the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) 2008 tomato recall, which later proved unnecessary as the agency conceded that tomatoes were not the source of the Salmonella contamination, caused the farm substantial economic harm. Seaside Farm, Inc. v. United States, No. 11-1199 (D.S.C., decided March 6, 2012). Further details about the litigation appear in Issue 395 of this Update.

The court dismissed the plaintiff’s Takings Clause claim, the claim that FDA violated the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act and the defamation claim. The plaintiff’s negligence claim will, however, proceed. While the court suggested that this may actually be a claim for defamation and thus may also be subject to dismissal under the Federal Tort Claims Act, because the defendant did not seek to dismiss on this ground, the court declined “to dismiss the negligence claim on this ground at this time.”

The court gave the parties 60 days to conduct discovery as to certain jurisdictional issues and gave the government the opportunity to again challenge subject matter jurisdiction. “At that time, both parties should also be prepared to discuss whether the plaintiff’s claim for negligence is actually a defamation claim.”

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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