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Sunday, April 26, 1998
Judge weeds out grass suit
DALLAS (AP) -- A judge has mowed down a grass farmer's bid
for protection under the state's "veggie libel law."
State visiting Judge Bill Sheehan threw out a case filed by
Pat Anderton, the owner of a Plano turf farm, against James McAfee,
a state agricultural extension agent. McAffee had written in a
newspaper column in late 1996 that Texturf 10, a grass brand grown
by Anderton, did not respond well to the humidity in the Dallas
Ms. Anderton said her grass had been slandered and she sued
under the "veggie libel law."
The law was designed to prevent uninformed challenges to the
wholesomeness of perishable food products. It allows producers
to sue those they believe falsely disparaged their products.
The judge did not indicate the basis for his ruling, made public
Doyle Anderton, president of farm management for the turf farm,
said the lawsuit wasn't about money and wasn't about eating grass.
"What we're trying to do is get him to keep his lip shut,"
he said of McAfee. "If they're loose cannons, they don't
understand the impact of what they say."
The Texas Attorney General's Office, which represented McAfee
because he is a state employee, argued that agricultural extension
advisers like him need to be able to dispense good-faith counsel
without fear of being sued.
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