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Court Rejects Award In Citrus Canker Case

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Workers destroy citrus fruit considered contaminated by the citrus canker virus October 10, 2000 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Robert King/ Newsmakers)

Workers destroy citrus fruit considered contaminated by the citrus canker virus October 10, 2000 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Robert King/ Newsmakers)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — An appeals court Wednesday said the state is liable for compensating Palm Beach County residents for destroying their citrus trees, but ordered a new trial on the amount that should be paid.

The class-action lawsuit is part of a series of legal disputes about efforts by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to try to fight citrus-canker disease, which has plagued the citrus industry.

A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal on Wednesday agreed with a circuit judge that a “taking” had occurred when the state destroyed more than 66-thousand residential citrus trees. But the panel found that scientific evidence about citrus canker was improperly excluded as a jury considered how much the state should pay in compensation.

The jury awarded $12.2 million, a total that jumped to $19.2 million with interest, according to the ruling. The appeals court said such scientific evidence could have influenced decisions about the value of the trees.

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”

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