MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) — A South Florida appeals court Wednesday cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit stemming from the state’s destruction of more than 247,000 citrus trees in Miami-Dade County.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court decision certifying a class of homeowners whose healthy trees were eliminated as part of a state effort in 2000 to block the spread of citrus canker disease.

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In a 2-1 opinion, the appeals court also rejected an argument by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that the proper measure of damages should be decreases in property value.

The court approved the use of tree-replacement costs as the proper measure.

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Judge Leslie Rothenberg, who wrote a dissenting opinion, contended in part that there is “no practicable, uniform way of accurately calculating the replacement value of each of the 247,972 trees in this case.” The dissent said the class includes 83,630 homeowners.

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

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