A Palm Beach, Fla., circuit court judge has ruled in favor of homeowners who lost citrus trees when the state tried to halt the spread of canker disease.
Canker is a bacterial disease that destroys fruit trees, the Palm Beach post reported Monday.
Judge Robin Rosenberg said the state's destruction of 66,468 trees during a disease-eradication program constituted a "taking" under the Florida Constitution and therefore required "full and just compensation."
Rosenberg's ruling was issued on behalf of homeowners whose symptomless trees were destroyed during the state's program, which required the removal of all citrus trees within a 1,900-foot radius of an infected tree.
The case will go to trial March 31 to decide the amount compensation due to homeowners.
Florida originally provided $100 Wal-Mart gift cards for the first tree cut down, and then gave homeowners $55 in cash for subsequent trees, The Washington Post said.
Attorneys for the homeowners calculate the value of the lost trees at anywhere from $350 to $1,000 each.
Copyright 2007 by United Press International
Explore further: How the dry rot Serpula lacrymans adapted to a new ecological habitat