GMO land leaser responsibility

SOURCE: Mike Shooltz (
SUBHEAD: Gay & Robinson to remain with Dupont/Pioneer lawsuit on pesticide spraying in Kauai.

By Chris D'Angelo on 16 March 2014 for Garden Island News -

Image above: Aerial photo of part pf Dupont GMO seed facility on Gay & Robinson land on Kauai. From (

[Source's note on behalf of Kauai Rising:  Federal Judge Kobayashi's ruling described in the article below  could significantly raise the stakes for anyone currently leasing land to the GMO agrochemical companies. It will, at least, certainly give them something to seriously consider, especially folks like Kamehameha Schools who have leases up for renewal this year. Mahalo for all that you are all doing in support of the health and well being of all. Each day brings new signs that all of your efforts are bearing fruit. Shine on!]

A federal judge has refused to dismiss Kauai landowner Gay & Robinson, Inc. as a defendant in a pair of civil cases against biotech giant Pioneer Hi-Bred.

The Feb. 27 ruling by U.S District Judge Leslie Kobayashi means the landowner could potentially be held liable for the conduct of its tenant — specifically plaintiffs’ claims about the drift of fugitive dust and pesticides into Waimea, on Kauai’s Westside.

It could also have implications for other large landowners in Hawaii, including the State of Hawaii and Kamehameha Schools, which also lease land to genetically modified seed companies.

Prior to the recent ruling, Kobayashi dismissed claims against Gay & Robinson, as well as the Robinson Family Partners, ruling that the claims did not contain sufficient factual allegations to support arguments of negligence, failure to warn, trespass and nuisance.

However, the judge allowed the Waimea plaintiffs to amend their complaint.

The amended complaint, filed in September, “added factual allegations regarding the history of the Robinson Defendants’ lease with Pioneer,” according to the ruling. It also expanded allegations about the Robinson defendants’ historical sugar farming on the property later leased to Pioneer; how the location of the fields should make the risk of drift and runoff readily apparent; and the defendants’ failure to implement best management practices.

Plaintiffs allege that following their initial lease with Pioneer, they entered into lease extensions for additional terms and for more acreage. They say the Robinson defendants are liable for Pioneer’s unlawful acts during the terms of those extensions because they “knew about erosion and drift problems and knew about complaints from Waimea residents; participated in Pioneer’s insufficient attempts to address erosion and drift; and allowed Pioneer to operate even though they knew that Pioneer had not obtained the required permits and exemptions,” the ruling states.

The court ruled it is “reasonable infer that, at the time of the lease extensions in 2002, 2005, and 2010, the Robinson Defendents knew that Pioneer’s unlawful farming operations were causing, or would necessarily cause, a nuisance.”

The Waimea plaintiffs are seeking damages for the impact to their homes; the reduction of their property values due to fugitive dust and the effects of pesticides; and the costs to remediate their properties and other relief.

Kyle Smith, one of two attorneys representing Kauai’s Westside community in the lawsuit against the genetically modified seed grower, said he was pleased with the court’s recent ruling and that the fight over the Robinson defendants has been “long-running.”

Michael Pupura, an attorney for one of the two law firms representing the defendants in the case, declined to comment on the ruling.

A trial date has been set for early August.


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