Colorado Judge Rules Pesticide Spraying Qualifies as Trespassing
Thursday, July 12, 2012
In what could become an important legal precedent, a Colorado judge has ruled that the spraying of agricultural pesticides can be considered a form of trespassing if it impacts neighbors.
Delta County District Court Judge Charles Greenacre ruled in favor of Gordon Macalpine and Rosemary Bilchak, who complained that the spraying of Fyfanon, which contains malathion, by neighbor James Hopper endangered their efforts to have a certified organic farm. To be an official organic farm, no chemical spraying can be found on the property in question.
At least twice Hopper sprayed for mosquitoes resulting in the wind blowing the pesticide onto the neighboring farm near Hotchkiss. Hopper used Fyfanon because his wife once became seriously ill from West Nile virus, a disease carried by mosquitoes. However, Greenacre said that “Mr. Hopper, while driving on a road on his property, intentionally sprayed Fyfanon on plaintiffs' property to the south of the Hopper property. Plaintiffs, who were home at the time, saw the Fyfanon drift onto their property.” Testing by state officials discovered malathion not only on Macalpine and Bilchak’s property, but in their home.
Greenacre ruled that Hopper, who has since received training on how to be a better pesticide sprayer, cannot spray chemicals within 150 feet of his neighbor’s land and must monitor wind direction while spraying.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Organic Farmers Win One in Pesticide Case (by Steve Weishampel, Courthouse News Service)
Family Fights For Pesticides to Stop Mosquitoes (by Amanda Brandeis, KREX-TV)
Gordon MacAlpine and Rosemary Bilchak v. James Hopper and Georgia Hopper (District Court, Delta County, Colorado) (pdf)
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