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Waimea residents suing Pioneer Hi-Bred

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Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 12:45 am

LIHU‘E — A group of Waimea residents have filed suit in 5th Circuit Court against Pioneer Hi-Bred and landowner Gay & Robinson for alleged inaction to control erosion and pesticide-contaminated dust from its GMO test fields.

The suit, filed May 16 by Honolulu attorneys P. Kyle Smith and Gerard A. Jervis, represents 17 individuals from neighboring farms and communities. They are seeking an injunction against the use of suspected toxic chemicals and damages.

The complaint is separate from the mass-action suit filed in 5th Circuit last December by Smith and Jervis on behalf of 194 individuals against the same defendants. Attorneys representing Pioneer Hi-Bred and Gay & Robinson have since had a motion granted to move the case to federal court.

“We filed a motion for remand to take the case back to state court and it will be heard on July 17,” Smith said. “It was removed under the Class Action Fairness Act.”

Neither suit is a class action, but the attorneys said it was removed under provisions of mass joinder. The section details criteria of mass action complaints.

If the federal case is remanded to state court the attorneys said they would move to have the two cases litigated together. They said it is in the best interest of the plaintiffs to have the case heard on Kaua‘i.

“I think it would be fair to have litigation in Kaua‘i,” Jervis said.

“The plaintiffs can monitor and participate on motions. Removing it to Honolulu is prohibitive from a cost standpoint.”

The attorneys expect the defense to respond to the second case this week. At that point they expect similar motions to request the case be moved to federal court.

The suits claim that fugitive airborne dust exposure from restricted-use pesticides presents unreasonable  environmental risks including human health, the Waimea River, the coastline and coral reef.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages against Pioneer Hi-Bred International for failing to control dust.

The suit claims dust is transporting toxic chemicals used on a daily basis and that Pioneer Hi-Bred is conducting open-air testing of genetically modified crops at its Waimea Research Center.

“We operate our facilities on the islands with the highest standard of safety and environmental responsibility and we plan to vigorously defend our case,” said Cindy Goldstein, business and community outreach manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred.

The plaintiffs are seeking landlord liability damages against Gay & Robinson Inc. and its leasee, Robinson Family Partners, which in turn has subleased to Pioneer since 1998. The suit alleges the landowner has knowledge of the dangers imposed by land practices.

Gay & Robinson Inc. is a Hawai‘i corporation, and Robinson Family Partners is a general partnership registered in Hawai‘i.

Pioneer-Hi Bred is a DuPont business and an Iowa corporation.

The suit claims the fields in question are susceptible to wind and water erosion from years of sugar cane growing.

It claims current damage is in excess of historic agriculture practices.

The history of the case began in 2000, when residents issued a petition. Pioneer responded that it would take steps to minimize dust from its fields.

The suit claims that Pioneer continues to be in violation of grubbing and grading land standards and stockpiling operations in accordance with Kaua‘i Ordinance 808 and the Hawai‘i Pollution Control Act. It claims Pioneer failed to implement its conservation plan to minimize erosion after receiving an agricultural exemption for its Waimea Research Center in 2002.

A Kaua‘i County engineer’s report in March 2011 noted that Pioneer failed to keep its fields in a condition that would prevent damage by sedimentation to streams, watercourse, natural areas or other properties. The residents claim that dust with chemical smells continue to be detected in the community.

Local corn and taro farmers mentioned in the complaint express concern about pesticide effects on crops and the honey bee population. Residents point to home and property devaluation and are seeking damages including restoration costs.

The suit is seeking an injunction against Pioneer to cease using suspected chemicals until the potential harm is determined and the use is in compliance with state and local laws. It demands that Pioneer investigate actual risks to the community and offer proper warning.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

© 2015 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Welcome to the discussion.

11 comments:

  • WestSideKaua'i posted at 6:37 am on Fri, Jun 15, 2012.

    WestSideKaua'i Posts: 37

    There's a security guard for the same reason other local businesses have security. Before, there were people coming on the property and breaking into parked cars and stealing, and siphoning gas. No good that.

    If you saw people walking across the bridge to Waimea town when pau hana, then guess where they live? Waimea town.

     
  • Uncle Gulliver posted at 9:23 pm on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    Uncle Gulliver Posts: 85

    Mentioning Mexicans braceros in the Kauai Fields? Pancho Villa would never have bothered with the courts. He jus fix 'em right now. Adios.

     
  • wati posted at 8:09 pm on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    wati Posts: 110

    [quote]WestSideKaua'i said: " All the employees live here on Kaua'i. With families, children and grandchildren too. Plenty locals, and no seasonal workers imported from anywhere. What are you even talking about?"[/quote]

    HANA HOU!!! .... continue.

    But the issue here is not who work where ... the issue hea is about the things that stay poisoning my ohana in the Waimea Valley!!!! Thats what I'm talking about.

    Plus dat corn dey stay growing is not consumable which means "No can eat!!!" as for plant. So good Waimea is suing this corn company but leave the Robinson family out I think. The Robinson family has been good to our people for decades so they shouldn't be a part of this lawsuit but I see they are so I no can do anything but they can.

    Ok I all pau .... I going eat banana now. Banana from my yard that is not sprayed with toxic chemicals and not poisoning people. IMUA WAIMEA IMUA!!!

     
  • wati posted at 7:45 pm on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    wati Posts: 110

    [quote]WestSideKaua'i said: " All the employees live here on Kaua'i. With families, children and grandchildren too. Plenty locals, and no seasonal workers imported from anywhere. What are you even talking about?"[/quote]

    Of course they have to live on Kauai to go working, you think they going fly every morning to Kauai for go work?. Eh I not dumb because I know who is local and who is not. We used to see them walking across the Waimea bridge by the loads 4-5 people and more sometimes when they pau hana. They used to hang out on the little island across the laundremat. And not only that, why get security guard at the gate of the company's location across of the Russian Fort?. Who going steal their corn?. So something must be up.

     
  • WestSideKaua'i posted at 4:52 pm on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    WestSideKaua'i Posts: 37

    [quote]wati said: "SUE THEM ALL!!! Our life, our children's life and our grand children's life are too important for having some stupid CORN COMPANY with their toxic pesticide push us local people around. Tell me where did all those Mexican workers came from?"[/quote]

    All the employees live here on Kaua'i. With families, children and grandchildren too. Plenty locals, and no seasonal workers imported from anywhere. What are you even talking about?

     
  • onegeaeme posted at 3:58 pm on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    onegeaeme Posts: 5678

    ]098765 said: "While we are at it....Why not add pesticide free golf courses? "

    Absolutely. They can compost horse manure. More horses more horsey do. Ari will contribute. Free.

    What do the highway signs read CAUTION WEED SPRAYING? Something like that. What are we supposed to do? Hold our breath? Maybe we should have a telephone chain. When we see signs like these on the highway, wait until spraying starts, then several of us drive down. Wear masks- full radiation gear/whatever- & carry signs. Peaceful. Pleasant. Smiling. But.....

    Count me in.

    Peace and love Bettejo Dux

     
  • wati posted at 11:45 am on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    wati Posts: 110

    SUE THEM ALL!!!

    Our life, our children's life and our grand children's life are too important for having some stupid CORN COMPANY with their toxic pesticide push us local people around.

    Tell me where did all those Mexican workers came from?.

    IT'S TIME WE ALL STAND UP AND SHOW THEM THIS IS OUR ISLAND, OUR PEOPLE AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR LIVES!!!

    TAKE ALL OF THEM TO COURT!!!

    IMUA WAIMEA!!!!

     
  • 098765 posted at 8:54 am on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    098765 Posts: 43

    While we are at it....Why not add pesticide free golf courses?

     
  • Polynesian posted at 8:31 am on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    Polynesian Posts: 21

    If you care about your health, and Hawai'i watch this video on you tube.

    Stop Monsanto From Poisoning Hawai'i: Genetic Engineering Chemical Warfare

     
  • 098765 posted at 8:24 am on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    098765 Posts: 43

    Check out this video on YouTube: A new film from Hawaii'i GMO Justice Coalition.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZgrOFjhzdg


     
  • kauaiboy posted at 7:18 am on Thu, Jun 14, 2012.

    kauaiboy Posts: 233

    “We operate our facilities on the islands with the highest standard of safety and environmental responsibility and we plan to vigorously defend our case,” said Cindy Goldstein, business and community outreach manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred.

    What else would Ms. Goldstein say? She is being paid to provide corporate spin. Her job depends upon it. So do the jobs of perhaps 200 others on the Westside who work for the 3 bio-tech giants. These people, and the corporations they work for, are slowly poisoning the island, its people, and its pollinators. AND THEY ARE CREEPING AROUND THE ISLAND, NOW IN PUHI AND LIHUE. Wake up Kauai! If this is the future of agriculture on Kauai, it is a sad future indeed. Small, organic family farms are the way of the future and if Kauai fails to embrace and encourage that paradigm, we are doomed to a life of sickness and corporate control. All for a few hundred lousy jobs. Sad. I hope that justice prevails, both for the residents of Waimea and the people of Kauai.

     

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