The right thing to do

The weeds infesting the field made for slow walking. The torn plastic on the raised soil beds that once bore a bumper crop now hosted decaying leaves and rotted remains of fruit. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

“What do we do?” She said. “We did everything IFAS and our agent recommended.”

The crop was perfect for a while. A harvester informed the new farmers a week before picking of the unexpected results. “I’m sad to tell you a disease has infested your crop, row by row, end to end.”

Samples were taken by the county agent. A disease not native to the land was identified. Someone, off the record, whispered to the farmer, “You need a lawyer.”

Big claims are difficult to pursue, and small ones are pounced upon like a limping wild turkey strutting past pythons in the Everglades. Suit is filed. Interrogation ensues and ridicule begins. But the farmer marches on. There is nothing else to do.

A month before the settlement negotiation, we set a minimum goal for the net return to the farmer irrespective of legal costs, which were considerable, and lawyer time exceeding 200 hours.

At the settlement negotiation, an hour goes by, then another, another, and another. Late in the afternoon, a number is offered that equals the hoped-for net sum for the farmer. The lawyer waives fees and costs with the farmer. A tearful client said, “Thank you.” We responded, “It was the right thing to do.”

CREDIT

column by MICHAEL MARTIN

BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law Office in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida. He has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time. [/emember_protected]