A legal fight over citrus canker has finally come to a close after 17 years. Citrus canker, which reappeared in Florida in 1986, is a bacterial disease that can cause blemishes on the fruit, and in some cases, can cause fruit to drop prematurely. Canker is usually spread by the wind, making it difficult to control.
In 2000, Florida was desperate to stop citrus canker in its tracks. In an attempt to protect groves from canker, the state ordered the destruction of all healthy trees within 1,900 feet of an infected tree. However, this destruction was done without the tree owners’ permission. More than 84,000 homeowners in Broward and Palm Beach counties filed suit because they felt that their rights were being violated since the state was destroying their property without consent.
Now, the 17-year-old case has been closed. The affected homeowners will receive the compensation they’ve been fighting for. The 84,000 residents will split a payment of $52 million, with $30 million going to Palm Beach County residents and $22 million going to Broward County residents.
The $52 million is coming out of an $88.7 billion spending plan signed by Governor Rick Scott on March 16. According to a report from the Palm Beach Post, the residents should receive checks by the end of the year. One lawyer working on the case, Robert Gilbert, told the Palm Beach Post that he is also working to get compensation for homeowners in Miami-Dade, Lee and Orange counties who lost trees due to the state’s attempt to control citrus canker.
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