West Virginia Record

Friday, December 13, 2019

Blackberry farmers claim organic property contaminated when helicopter dropped erosion-control pellets on land

Lawsuits

By Carrie Bradon | May 6, 2019

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BECKLEY — A farm is suing a corporation, alleging it contaminated its property.

Blackberry Botanicals, dba Blackberry Springs Farm; Neal and Elizabeth Laferriere; et al, filed a complaint in Southern District of West Virginia against Equitrans Midstream Corp., Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, U.S. Trinity Energy Services LLC, and Swanson Group Aviation LLC.

The suit states the plaintiffs applied for USDA-certified organic status for their products on July 3, 2018. The application required that the property did not have any prohibited substance applied to the soil for three years prior. On Aug. 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Certified Organic inspected the property and on Sept. 28, 2018 Blackberry Botanicals received the USDA organic certification. The suit states that on Sept. 7, 2018, a helicopter flew over the plaintiff's land and dropped "Earthguard-Edge” pellets used for erosion control on the plaintiff's property. In addition to striking six individuals, the presence of the pellets has caused the farm to lose its organic certification. Defendants were asked to remove the pellets, but alleged replied that there is no way to do so. 

The defendant is accused of trespass, negligence and nuisance.

The plaintiff is seeking all reasonable sums due, attorney fees and court costs. The plaintiff is represented by Anna Ziegler and Elise Keaton of Ziegler & Ziegler L.C. in Hinton.

Southern District of West Circuit Court case number 5:19-CV-00182

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