Beekeeper sues state

by John O'Brien |
Jun. 16, 2006, 4:41am

CHARLESTON - A Harrison County beekeeper is suing the West Virginia Department of Agriculture's Apiary Division for allegedly infecting his hives with a bacterial disease and destroying them.

Lowell Thomas Stout II filed the lawsuit June 9 in Kanawha Circuit Court against George Clutter, the director of the Apiary Division.

Gene Bailey of Daniels Law Firm in Charleston is representing Stout, who claims Clutter did not sterilize equipment used to treat a beehive that was infected with American Foul Brood, intentionally infecting his other hives. The hives were then taken and destroyed, he said.

Stout says he and Clutter had an agreement to destroy only the three weakest hives. He is seeking $125,000 in damages.

"Mr. Clutter negligently and intentionally seized the infected hives and placed them in the back of a WVDA-Apiary Division truck, exposing all other hives to contamination," the complaint says.

It adds a long history of AFB at Stout's farm. He was even featured in a 2002 Charleston Gazette story on the treatment of the disease.

Stout says during the treatment and in front of two Gazette reporters on April 16, 2002, Clutter failed to properly sterilize the equipment he was using.

When another small case of AFB broke out months later, Stout says he contacted an expert for advice on how to get rid of the disease. He claims the treatment was working until Clutter seized and contaminated his hives.

Judge Louis Bloom has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1093

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