A recently enacted FL law could thwart a class action lawsuit by Glades residents whose health and finances have suffered due to widespread burning of sugarcane in western Palm Beach County.
The sweetness of sugar is found among the fibers of the inner stalks of the sugarcane plant. Part of the process of harvesting sugarcane involves removing the leafy outer stalks of the plant, leaving the soft, inner stalks, which are then cut down and processed. The fastest way to get rid of the outer stalk is to set the sugarcane field on fire which sends air pollution, in the form of smoke, into the surrounding area. A slower, and therefore more expensive method is to cut off the outer stalks by hand or by machine, but this method, called “green harvesting,” causes little or no pollution. Major sugar-producing countries such as Brazil and Thailand have laws banning sugarcane burning, and have therefore switched to green harvesting, but sugarcane burning remains widespread in Florida, largely due to the powerful sugarcane industry lobby. Glades residents whose health has been harmed and whose property values have declined due to the pollution have filed a class action lawsuit against Florida’s biggest sugar producers, but the newly enacted Right to Farm Act may deal a blow to their efforts to collect damages. If you have suffered an illness related to industrial pollution near your place of residence, contact a Palm Beach County mass torts lawyer.
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The Right to Farm Act is Bad News for Glades Residents
Sugarcane burning is responsible for high levels of air pollution in the residential areas of the Glades region in western Palm Beach County, at the northern edge of the Everglades. This pollution has caused high incidences of asthma and other smoke exposure-related illnesses among the residents of the area, most of whom are Black or Latino, and has caused property values in the area to decline.
More than 30,000 residents of the area have filed a class action lawsuit against the sugar companies responsible for the burning. Meanwhile, in April 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill protecting certain agricultural activities, including “particle emissions,” a euphemism for agricultural burning. The new law, called the Right to Farm Act, also limits the damages plaintiffs can receive in pollution-related lawsuits to the amount of depreciation in property values resulting from the pollution. Since property values in the neighborhoods near the sugarcane fields were already low due to redlining policies from decades ago, the amount that plaintiffs will be able to recover may not be enough to pay their pollution-related medical bills and compensate for their financial losses, but the plaintiffs and their mass tort lawyers are still seeking justice.
Contact Ged Lawyers About Illnesses Related to Industrial Pollution in FL
If environmental pollution from industrial activities near your home has harmed your health, a mass torts lawyer can help. Contact Ged Lawyers in Boca Raton, Florida to discuss your case.