It was, in some ways, the most basic of Oregon product liability cases: a company accused of recklessly selling a product it had not tested and which did a huge amount of damage to the businesses of those who used it. According to The Oregonian the Woodburn Fertilizer Company and Sun Gro Horticulture, the manufacturer and designer respectively of the fertilizer Multicote, are now being ordered to pay $40 million to account for the economic losses suffered by customers who trusted them.
Two Canadian farmers sued the companies after using Multicote. “The farmers’ attorneys were able to prove to the 12-person Multnomah County jury that Multicote killed off 4.1 million blueberry plants and hundreds of thousands of other types of plants” in 2007-8, the newspaper reports. The court’s award is divided into direct economic losses suffered by the farmers of $12.2 million, and allowances for the loss of customers and for interest on these sums.
The paper also notes that “Defense attorneys argued that the farmers should have tested Multicote first before using it in large numbers on plants.” But what, one might reply, is a fertilizer for? Customers have a reasonable expectation that when they use a product properly it will perform as advertised. Clearly that is not what happened here.
Testimony at the trial centered on the specific nature of Multicote: it was marketed as a “controlled-release” fertilizer, but testimony showed that in their rush to enter this particular segment of the fertilizer market the companies never properly tested the Multicote’s formula. Such testing – such corporate responsibility – is exactly what we all have the right to expect from those who bring products to market.
Oregon product liability attorneys can help those who feel they have suffered at the hands of negligent companies or vendors recover their losses and put their personal and professional lives back together. In such cases the law does nothing more than enforce the accountability that we all have the right to expect from others as part of modern society.
The Oregonian: Portland jury awards nearly $40 million to two farmers after fertilizer destroys their crops