WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday threw
out a $6.2 million judgment for an egg producer in a 14 year
dispute with the Agriculture Department. The court said it
was not convinced that food safety regulations unduly hurt
the bottom line at Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, Ind.
A claims court had said government restrictions on the sale
of contaminated eggs were not narrow enough and thus amounted
to an unconstitutional "taking" of private property
under the Fifth Amendment.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed
and ordered the lower court to re examine whether the damage
suffered by Rose Acre outweighed the Agriculture Department's
interest in safeguarding the public.
A woman who answered the telephone Wednesday evening at Rose
Acre said no one was immediately available to comment on the
The department adopted the emergency regulations in 1990
after salmonella poisoning outbreaks in Kentucky, Illinois
and Tennessee. Authorities said they traced the outbreaks
to eggs from three of Rose Acre's Indiana farms.
Regulators refused to allow Rose Acre to sell eggs in the
shell from the three farms and required expensive wet cleaning
of hen houses that damaged the structures' electrical wiring.
Rose Acre said it was forced to sell at a loss 700 million
eggs that were diverted into low priced markets for eggs.
The company contended that federal officials acted rashly
in imposing the restrictions without testing any of Rose Acre's
eggs for salmonella to determine whether the bacteria might
have been introduced later due to improper handling.
But the appeals court sided with federal officials, saying
that testing of eggs was not a feasible method at the time.
An environmental safety rights group, Community Rights Counsel,
praised the decision for giving federal officials the "flexibility
to enact strong protections" to reduce public safety
risks. The group had filed a friend of the court brief in
On the Net:
Appeals court opinion: http://www.fedcir.gov/opinions/03