FRESNO, Calif., Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Table Grape
Commission won an important court ruling this week, setting the stage for full
litigation on the merits of the case brought against the commission by two
The case against the commission began in 1996 and centers around the claim
by two shippers that the commission's advertising -- which promotes greater
market access and demand for California table grapes -- violates their freedom
of speech. In 2000, their complaint was dismissed when the district court
found the commission's advertising program fully constitutional and determined
that further litigation was not warranted.
In January 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal
and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings. The court
of appeals concluded that an intervening decision by the United States Supreme
Court prevented the district court from peremptorily dismissing the case.
Following the Ninth Circuit's ruling, the plaintiffs argued that the
commission had been declared unconstitutional, and asked the district court to
grant judgment in their favor, without trial proceedings. That argument has
now been rejected by the district court. As United States District Judge
Wanger ruled, "The Appeals Court did not grant judgment to the Plaintiffs nor
did it remand the case to the district court with instructions to do so."
"The plaintiffs claimed in court and in the press that the Ninth Circuit
decision last January had effectively ended the case, in their favor,"
explained Kathleen Nave, the commission's president. "But this week the
district court unambiguously demonstrated that the plaintiffs were wrong. As
this decision makes clear, all the Ninth Circuit did was to return the case to
the trial court for litigation. Nothing about the commission or its work has
been found unconstitutional, and none of the commission's many defenses have
Seth Waxman, former Solicitor General of the United States, argued the
case for the commission before Judge Wanger. "I greatly look forward to
presenting the commission's case," Mr. Waxman said. "The Table Grape
Commission is a worthy institution and its work is vital to the industry and
to the economy of the state of California."
No schedule has yet been set for litigation in district court at this
point. "This lawsuit -- by two of the state's 600 table grape growers -- has
been going on since 1996," said Nave. "Unfortunately, it isn't going to be
over for a while. In the meantime, we will continue to do our job to promote
California table grapes around the world."
The California Table Grape Commission is the promotional arm of the
state's fresh grape industry and its more than 600 farmers. The commission
promotes fresh California grapes in the United States and in 40 countries
SOURCE California Table Grape Commission