Fertilizer Manufacturer Not Entitled To Summary Judgment in Damages Action.

The plaintiff owned a fruit orchard and the defendant manufactured and sold fertilizer products. The defendant’s representatives met with the plaintiff on multiple occasions and instructed the plaintiff how to apply its products. The plaintiff allegedly followed the defendant’s instructions, but many of the plaintiff’s fruit trees and bushes died. Trees and bushes that were not treated by the defendant’s products did not suffer damage. The plaintiff sued the defendant for $5 million in damages. The defendant sought partial summary judgment, alleging, inter alia, a lack of duty and causation. The court denied the motions, ruling that the evidence supported a finding of a breach of duty because the defendant undertook to render services to the plaintiff and specific damage allegedly resulted from the services rendered. The court also found that sufficient evidence existed for a jury to find that the plaintiff’s damage was caused by the defendant’s product. The court also held that a jury could find that the plaintiff followed the defendant’s oral instructions, even if they differed from those printed on the product label. As such, the plaintiff’s misuse of the product would not be an intervening cause of the damage. Fowers Fruit Ranch, LC v. Bio Tech Nutrients, LLC, No. 2:11-cv-00105-TC, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148108 (D. Utah Oct. 16, 2014).

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