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Nutrien and Aerial Specialists Argue Blueberry Pesticide Suit Should Stay in District Court

A tractor spraying a field

Tractor spraying pesticides on soybean field with sprayer at spring

Nutrien Ag Solutions and Aerial Specialists responded to the plaintiff’s motion for remand on Wednesday in the Middle District of Georgia. Diane Cartey, the plaintiff, is an organic farmer who alleged in a complaint filed in August that the defendants had destroyed her front-yard blueberry garden by recklessly applying aerial pesticides. 

The plaintiff argued against the defendants’ removal of the case in December, and asked the court to move the matter back to the Superior Court of Morgan County. Cartey explained that Nutrien and Aerial Specialists removed the case because of a “diversity of citizenship,” but that the amount in controversy was not sufficient to move the lawsuit to the district court. The plaintiff purported that the defendants did not meet their duty to prove that the controversy amount exceeds $75,000.00 by providing any evidence after the plaintiff put the amount at $74,999.00.

The defendants in their response to the motion explained that the plaintiff’s arguments to remand the case were insufficient because Cartey did not dispute the defendants’ claim that there was a “complete diversity of citizenship” between the parties. Further, they said that in the complaint Cartey “intentionally ple(a)d punitive damages and attorneys’ fees in addition to special damages,” showing that the actual amount in controversy would be “well above the jurisdictional requirement.” 

Nutrien and Aerial Specialists also explained that the case “presents significant issues involving federal law, specifically the Federal Aviation Act, which would allegedly preempt the applicable state laws and contains a differing negligence standard to the Georgia laws cited by the plaintiff. As a result, the defendants argued that the Georgia Middle District Court should have jurisdiction in the case and asked it to deny the Motion to Remand. 

Cartey is represented by Christopher L. Weems. The defendants are represented by Hall Booth Smith

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