Press Release

Duarte Nursery sues feds for retaliating against its exercise of First Amendment rights

SACRAMENTO, CA;  September 4, 2015: Yesterday, after a U.S. District Court granted leave to file an amended pleading, Duarte Nursery, Inc., and its president, John Duarte, filed an amended complaint against the United States and the Army Corps of Engineers, to add a claim of First Amendment retaliation to Duarte’s already pending due process claimsagainst the Corps.

Family-owned Duarte Nursery and John Duarte are represented, free of charge, by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF).

The feds’ unconstitutional retaliatory action came after Duarte exercised First Amendment rights by publicly challenging the government’s shut-down of Duarte’s wheat operations in Tehama County without any notice or hearings as required by due process.

Specifically, after Duarte sued the Army Corps, in October, 2013, for violating the nursery’s due process rights, and John Duarte spoke in the press and went on the airwaves and on national television criticizing the government’s heavy-handed behavior, the United States turned around and sued Duarte for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act.

Evidence discovered in the case shows that the Corps would not have referred this matter to the Justice Department if Duarte had not sued the Corps, and criticized the Corps in the media, for violating Duarte’s due process rights.

“The First Amendment prohibits government from taking action against citizens that is substantially motivated by the targeted citizens’ exercise of their rights, like the right to speak out in public against government misdeeds or sue over government wrongdoing,” said PLF Senior Staff Attorney Tony Francois.  “PLF is looking forward to holding the Army Corps accountable, not just for violating Duarte’s due process rights, but First Amendment rights as well.”

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is the leading watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulation, in courts nationwide.  PLF represents all clients free of charge.

Case Attorneys

Anthony L. Francois

Senior Attorney

Tony Francois is an attorney in PLF’s Sacramento office, and has litigated cases around the country defending Americans’ property rights from land use and environmental restrictions. He is a member … ›

View profile

Damien M. Schiff

Senior Attorney

Currently a Senior Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, Damien joined PLF in 2005.  His practice has focused on federal and state environmental and land-use issues.  Damien was counsel of record … ›

View profile

Jeffrey W. McCoy

Attorney

Jeff McCoy is an attorney at PLF’s office in Sacramento, where he works on cases involving environmental regulations and private property rights. Prior to joining PLF, Jeff was a staff … ›

View profile

Case Commentary

See all posts
Post

By Jeremy Talcott

Due Process: Criminals vs. property owners

One of America’s most cherished constitutional guarantees is the promise that no one may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Many people know of … ›

Read more
Post

By Anthony L. Francois

PLF statement on Duarte Nursery settlement with Justice Department

August 15, 2017 (Sacramento)

“Duarte Nursery, its president, John Duarte, and Pacific Legal Foundation and their co-counsel announce that Duarte Nursery has agreed to a settlement with the United States in the federal government’s nearly five-year enforcement action over Duarte’s routine action of plowing its property to plant wheat in late 2012,” said PLF Senior Attorney Tony Francois

Under the agreement, Duarte would admit no liability, pay the government $330,000 in a civil penalty, purchase $770,000 worth of vernal pool mitigation credits, and perform additional work on the site of the plowing

“This has been a difficult decision for me, my family, and the entire company, and we have come to it

Read more
Video

Hundreds of California jobs at risk because of government regulations

Employees of Duarte Nursery in Modesto, California talk about why their jobs are important and at risk because of runaway regulations in government agencies When the nursery plowed a wheat field in Tehama, Calif to plant wheat in 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers stepped in and halted work on the project The Army Corps said that John Duarte, president of the nursery, had disrupted land that was a navigable waterway under the waters of the United States The company now is facing millions in fines, which would inherently be felt most by it’s dedicated employees

Read more