Supreme Court won't hear pesticide case

Lincoln Journal Star Nebraska News, Jul 06, 2003


The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a Wisner man's request to restore a $2.2 million judgment in his pesticide exposure case.

Harold Eyl, a former maintenance worker for Wisner, has been unable to walk without assistance since 1993, after walking through an area of a city park that had been treated with the pesticide Pramitol.

Commonly know as ``Total Kill,'' the weed killer had been applied to the area earlier by city crews. Eyl suffered chemical burns on his feet and is unable to walk or stand without a cane.

In 1999, a Cuming County District Court jury found Pramitol's manufacturer, Ciba-Geigy, and area retailer, Northeast Cooperative, negligent and awarded Eyl nearly $2.2 million.

But last September, the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned the award, ruling that federal labeling regulations pre-empted Eyl's right to sue.

That prompted the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

``The Nebraska Supreme Court was flat wrong,'' said Brian Wolfson, one of Eyl's attorneys. ``This issue cries out for resolution. Mr. Eyl had $2 million taken away from him by the Nebraska court.''

The U.S. Supreme Court should have taken up the matter to clear up confusion in such cases, said Timothy Dowling, a Washington attorney who filed a friend of the court brief in the case on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Community Rights Counsel.

Courts in other states have reached widely disparate rulings on whether federal labeling requirements pre-empt the right to sue or the right of states to adopt additional pesticide requirements, Dowling said.

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