After 17 years, Pine Island Homeowners receive Citrus Canker checks as the result of class action lawsuit.
(Below are excerpts of the letter of explanation accompanying reimbursements for the taking of property by the State of Florida without proper compensation. Many checks were multiple hundreds of dollars.)
"Lee County Homeowner:
For the past 17 years, I have had the privilege of serving as lead counsel 1n a class action lawsuit in Lee County Circuit Court to recover compensation for approximately 12,000 Lee County homeowners whose nearly 34,000 uninfected residential citrus; trees were destroyed by the Florida Department of Agriculture between 2002 and 2006 under the citrus canker eradication program. Following lengthy trials, the Court ruled that the Florida Constitution entitled the homeowners to compensation for the value of their property taken and destroyed by the Department, and a Jury determined the amount of full compensation. In 2014, the Court entered a final judgment that was upheld on appeal.
In 2017, we returned to Court when the Department failed to pay the judgment. The Court ordered the Department to immediately pay the full amount due under the judgment. In 2019, the appellate court upheld that order. In 2020, the Florida Legislature finally appropriated funds to pay the full amount due under the judgment.
The payments to you and thousands of other eligible Lee County homeowners were calculated based on the jury verdict and judgment, as well as the Department's detailed records regarding the number of trees destroyed on your property and your prior receipt and actual use (if any) of Shade Florida/Walmart cards and $55 tree payments. The Court approved the allocation and distribution of the proceeds.
The Court's orders and other important documents from the lawsuits can be viewed at www.leecountycitruscankerfund.com. The website also provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding how your payment was calculated.
The compensation being distributed to you and other Lee County homeowners came after many years of efforts by a small team of lawyers and fellow Lee County citizens. Throughout the long Journey, the team was driven by the pursuit of Justice on behalf of all Lee County homeowners whose trees were destroyed.
Robert C. Gilbert"