Appellate court KOs damages method for soybean farm

BVWireIssue #233-1
February 2, 2022

economic damages & lost profits
damages, lost profits, expert testimony, valuation methodology

A CPA who specializes in damages used three ways to calculate damages to a Louisiana soybean farm caused by someone who was supposed to be checking for insects. The trial court accepted one of his methodologies, which measured damages based on yields from a neighboring farm.

Growing pains: On appeal, the defendants argued that the methodology was not appropriate because the Aultman case set the proper legal standard. That case says that, in general, the amount of damages for the loss of a growing crop is the average yield and market value of crops of the same kind, planted and cared for in the same manner and in the same area, less certain costs. The plaintiff countered by pointing out that the expert used what he felt was a relevant comparable and a methodology presented in Robert L. Dunn’s book, Recovery of Damages for Lost Profits.

The appellate court sided with the plaintiff, ruling that using a comparable is not consistent with precedent, i.e., the standard used in the Aultman case. The appellate court used an alternative methodology the expert had presented, which used the subject farm’s best yield over the past five years, which resulted in a lower amount of damages.

The case is Dettenhaim Farms, Inc. v. Greenpoint Ag, LLC, 54,162 (La.App. 2 Cir.) (Nov. 17, 2021). The full court opinion and case digest can be found on the BVLaw platform.

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