A lawsuit brought against a Sunnyside dairy will be dismissed after the prosecuting attorney moved for dismissal.
Attorney Charlie Tebbutt has a history of bringing lawsuits against farmers. Most of the time, the farm can’t afford a lengthy trial and will settle. Majestic Dairy decided to fight the frivolous lawsuit instead.
Tebbutt brought the lawsuit against the dairy on behalf of Community Association for the Restoration of the Environment (CARE). They claimed the dairy had contaminated the groundwater with nitrates. Nicholas and Janie Struikmans, owners of Majestic Dairy, knew they would win the lawsuit so instead of settling they decided to move forward with litigation.
The Struikmans retained Gary Baise, one of the best environmental lawyers in Washington D.C., to represent them in the lawsuit.
Dan Wood, executive director of the Washington State Dairy Federation, was instrumental in the Struikmans retaining Baise.
Wood says he hopes other farms Tebbutt goes after will also try to fight.
“This case sends a clear message to those dairy farmers being sued by Mr. Tebbutt or whom he may choose to sue in the future. Don’t settle,” Wood said. “We believe this case will show that with the right representation and the testimony of expert witnesses as Mr. Baise arranged, these lawsuits can be successfully resolved without the farm-destroying requirements that Tebbutt typically imposes in settlements.”
The Dairy Federation and Save Family Farming have complained that the numerous cases filed by Tebbutt against dairy farms in Washington state would be rejected by the courts if the Department of Ecology would defend its Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit.
Save Family Farming executive director, Gerald Baron, says these lawsuits shouldn’t be allowed.
“Federal law such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) used by attorney Tebbutt against farmers says that when designated enforcement agencies are enforcing environmental laws, these citizen lawsuits are not allowed,” Baron said. “Even though Ecology issued a comprehensive permit in addition to environmental laws and regulations enforced by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the state stands by while this attorney rewrites the state’s environmental laws through these punitive settlements.”