September 04, 2015

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.”

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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.

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