Crown and Kiwi Fruit Sector plaintiffs settle longstanding Psa litigation
The plaintiffs in the crown and kiwi fruit sector have achieved an out-of-court settlement of the longstanding legal dispute that resulted from the occurrence of the kiwi fruit wine disease Psa in 2010.
Plaintiffs Strathboss Kiwifruit Limited, representing a group of kiwi growers, and Seeka Limited, a post-harvest operator, and others have agreed to accept a $ 40 million offer from Crown, which is a substantial contribution from Crown’s insurers of USD 15 million. The plaintiffs had filed a claim for $ 450 million plus interest.
The claim related to measures taken by the then Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and predates the establishment of the Ministry of Basic Industries.
According to Ray Smith, director general of the Department of Primary Industries, all parties agree that it is time to address the legal challenges that have existed since 2014 when petitioners filed against the Crown for claiming they were negligent, Psa ins Country.
“This payment to settle makes sense, given the number of plaintiffs in the class action and their cost to legal and litigation funders per capita.
“But the settlement recognizes the complaint made by the kiwifruit plaintiffs.”
Mr Smith says the settlement now upholds the earlier appeals court ruling.
“In its April 2020 decision, the appellate court found that it would not be fair, equitable or reasonable to hold the Crown legally responsible for losses of this kind and that therefore no legal due diligence was owed to plaintiffs by the competent MAF staff. The staff, like the crown, was protected by a legal immunity. “
The applicants had appealed against this decision to the Supreme Court and opened a five-day hearing on Monday, February 15, 2020. The agreement means that this hearing will now be lifted.
Mr Smith says the settlement gives the crown instant financial security and avoids a complex Supreme Court hearing and then has to wait for the court’s decision, which could take time.
“It is good that all parties can now continue from this event, which dates back 11 years.”
“Much work has been done since that time to improve management of front-border risks, border import processes and inevitable interventions.
“New Zealanders can trust our current biosecurity system,” says Smith.
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