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Court Denies Egg Farm Dismissal in Manure Pollution Suit

A tractor planting corn seeds in a field

Top view of tractor planting corn seed in field, high angle view drone photography

The Southern District of California denied an egg farm’s request to dismiss a complaint against it purporting that the farm, Fluegge Egg Ranch in Valley Center, California and individuals associated with it, sends waste and water runoff through the plaintiff’s properties and into Moosa Canyon Creek after it is sent into the farm’s cement culvert.  

The plaintiffs reportedly alleged that water quality tests of the culvert at Fluegge Egg Ranch contained pollutants including E.Coli, Enterococcus, Fecal Coliforms, and Total Coliforms. The plaintiffs included Randall Farrar, who is the trustee of the Minsuend Property Trust and the Mobile Home Park Trust UDT, and the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians. They said that the defendants violated the Clean Water Act (CWA), and reported that they sent notice of their intention to file the lawsuit in December 2019. 

In their motion to dismiss, the egg farm purported that the claims against it should be dismissed because it is not continuing to violate the CWA and that “the issuance of a state waiver implies that there is no federal issue under the CWA.” 

Judge Dana M. Sabrow in the court’s order agreed with the plaintiffs and said the defendant’s burden to prove that the case should be dismissed was high, and that it did not sufficiently show that it is “‘absolutely clear that the allegedly wrongful behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur.’” The court denied the motions to dismiss the state and federal claims. 

Fluegge Egg Ranch reportedly claimed that it fixed the alleged violations before the complaint was filed, using as evidence an Application and Notice of Intent for Conditional Waiver which it submitted to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, stating that the manure is on a tarp, is disposed of every two weeks, and is covered when rain is forecasted during the next day.  

The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Office of Craig A. Sherman and the defendants are represented by Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz

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