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Reichley v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Agric.

ELR Citation: 35 ELR 20221
Nos. No. 04-3253, (3d Cir., 11/02/2005)

The court holds that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's actions in response to an outbreak of avian influenza did not deprive a poultry farmer of his property in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case arose after three flocks of the farmer's chickens were suspected of having avian flu. In two cases the birds were placed under quarantine and then destroyed, under the supervision of the state, even though the birds turned out not to be infected. In a third case, the state found no evidence of infection, but due to concerns of an outbreak, a trade association offered to purchase and "depopulate" the birds. In each instance, the farmer was given the statutorily defined level of compensation. The farmer then filed the instant action, claiming that his due process rights were violated. Due process, however, does not require a predeprivation notice and hearing where, as here, there is an adequate scheme to compensate the property owner for the deprivation. He also argued that the trade association acted under the color of law, but the trade association never acted under the state's authority, and the farmer consented to the quarantine and depopulation of the birds.