Medical records sought in pesticide lawsuit

Defendants in a pesticide lawsuit claim the chief plaintiff has not turned over medical records.
Mateusz Perkowski

Capital Press

Published on August 18, 2015 10:08AM

The lead plaintiff in a lawsuit over off-site pesticide spraying in Oregon’s Curry County has allegedly ignored requests to turn over his medical records.

In 2013, a helicopter company sprayed residential properties near Gold Beach with herbicides intended for nearby forestlands, resulting in the Oregon Department of Agriculture suspending its applicator license.

Seventeen residents filed a complaint against the helicopter company, Pacific Air Research, as well as the logging firms overseeing the operation and the owners of the timber properties that were treated.

They claim to be suffering from serious health problems from being sprayed with 2,4-D and triclopyr and seek at least $100,000 per plaintiff in damages.

Two of the defendants, Crook Timberlands LLC and Barnes & Associates, recently filed a motion to compel the lead plaintiff, John Burns, to turn over medical records and other documents related to the injuries he allegedly suffered from the herbicide incident.

The motion claims that Burns has failed to respond to the request for information since May, necessitating a court order.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 28 and a trial in the overall case is set for Jan. 11-27, 2016, in gold Beach.

Capital Press was unable to reach Burns’ attorney for comment.

The legal dispute caught the attention of Oregon’s agricultural industry because it initially challenged the constitutionality of the state’s “right to farm” law, which prohibits lawsuits against common farming and forestry practices.

The judge dismissed that earlier version of the complaint because the defendants hadn’t raised the “right to farm” law as a defense, so allowing the plaintiffs to challenge the statute was premature.

The plaintiffs refiled their complaint without raising the “right to farm” issue, and it’s currently unclear whether the defendants will rely on the statute.

Aside from spurring litigation, the Curry County spray incident also prompted lawmakers to propose new restrictions on pesticides in Oregon.

A bill that heightened fines for violations, created no-spray buffers and devoted more resources to pesticide investigations was passed earlier this year.


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