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December 18, 2018
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The Florida Statutes

The 2018 Florida Statutes

Title XXXV
AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, AND ANIMAL INDUSTRY
Chapter 578
SEED
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F.S. 578.26
578.26 Complaint, investigation, hearings, findings, and recommendation prerequisite to legal action.
(1)(a) When any buyer is damaged by the failure of agricultural, vegetable, flower, tree, or shrub seed planted in this state to produce or perform as represented by the labeling of such seed as required by s. 578.09, as a prerequisite to her or his right to maintain a legal action against the dealer from whom the seed was purchased, the buyer must make a sworn complaint against the dealer alleging damages sustained. The complaint shall be filed with the department, and a copy of the complaint shall be served by the department on the dealer by certified mail, within such time as to permit inspection of the property, crops, plants, or trees referenced in, or related to, the buyer’s complaint by the seed investigation and conciliation council or its representatives and by the dealer from whom the seed was purchased.
(b) For types of claims specified in paragraph (a), the buyer may not commence legal proceedings against the dealer or assert such a claim as a counterclaim or defense in any action brought by the dealer until the findings and recommendations of the seed investigation and conciliation council are transmitted to the complainant and the dealer.
(c) Language setting forth the requirement for filing and serving the complaint shall be legibly typed or printed on the analysis label or be attached to the package containing the seed at the time of purchase by the buyer.
(d) A nonrefundable filing fee of $100 shall be paid to the department with each complaint filed. However, the complainant may recover the filing fee cost from the dealer upon the recommendation of the seed investigation and conciliation council.
(2) Within 15 days after receipt of a copy of the complaint, the dealer shall file with the department her or his answer to the complaint and serve a copy of the answer on the buyer by certified mail.
(3) The department shall refer the complaint and the answer thereto to the seed investigation and conciliation council provided in s. 578.27 for investigation, informal hearing, findings, and recommendation on the matters complained of.
(a) Each party must be allowed to present its side of the dispute at an informal hearing before the seed investigation and conciliation council. Attorneys may be present at the hearing to confer with their clients. However, no attorney may participate directly in the proceeding.
(b) Hearings, including the deliberations of the seed investigation and conciliation council, must be open to the public.
(c) Within 30 days after completion of a hearing, the seed investigation and conciliation council shall transmit its findings and recommendations to the department. Upon receipt of the findings and recommendation of the seed investigation and conciliation council, the department shall transmit them to the buyer and to the dealer by certified mail.
(4) The department shall provide administrative support for the seed investigation and conciliation council and shall mail a copy of the council’s procedures to each party upon receipt of a complaint by the department.
History.s. 1, ch. 26814, 1951; s. 7, ch. 57-199; ss. 14, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 13, ch. 69-144; s. 1, ch. 83-95; s. 3, ch. 85-62; s. 5, ch. 87-386; s. 3, ch. 88-75; s. 26, ch. 92-143; s. 913, ch. 97-103; s. 85, ch. 2013-18; s. 51, ch. 2018-84.