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FINED + raw deal

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by americanlawn, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,924

    We recently paid our first fine ever. Keep in mind that we have 3000 accounts, have been in business since 1990, and we have never had a "fine" until now . It was a $520 fine.

    Here's the skinny: July 2007, applicator was applying granular fert to a customer's lawn which had no weeds whatsoever. As he put his spreader back onto his truck, the customer came out and said, "I want you to spray 'these weeds' growing on the south side of my yard". So he grabbed a spot sprayer and followed the customer to her back yard. As they both walked along the south side of her privacy fence, she pointed out unwanted vegetation (definition of weed) growing over & through her fence. She said, "Spray this" and "spray this". So he sprayed exactly what the customer told him to. Turns out this was all just one plant.... her next door neighbor's Jackmani clematis. Couple days later, we got a phone call from our State. Seems the next door neighbor complained that "we killed all of her backyard ornamentals". I knew this was bull, so I immediately came out & inspected her backyard ornamentals. NO damage whatsoever. (except for some dieback of her clematis on the next door neighbor's side of the property), but a few days later, a State inspector came out to our office. Well.........you can guess the rest of the story. We got a fine for $520......even though our customer's fence was "one foot INSIDE" her property??????

    I guess this is one method of acquiring "miscellaneous income" for our state??

    BTW, the complaining lady does NOT work. (but we know her address) :laugh: (new guys, read between the lines).:laugh::laugh::laugh:
  2. IN2MOWN

    IN2MOWN LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,993

    Should of taken pictures to show the inspector. ALWAYS document things!
  3. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,924

    We had an affidavit from our customer as to what happened. (she was present -- NOT the complainant). The state boys always take pics. I admit that we should have told our customer to prune out these weeds (unwanted vegetation) instead of spraying it, but my guy was fairly new. Yet he followed state guidelines.....regarding the definition of weeds & their control. We know we got screwed, and we will never forget it. One more reason for us to remember the "83rd Street address".......if you know what I mean.
  4. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    If the fence is 1 ft. on the inside of the property, then the Climatus planted by the neighbor does not belong to her. I would have it surveyed....just based on principle, and fight it. Chemical trespass is on e thing, but if you are totally on the property - and totally in the right, that is a different story.
  5. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,924

    The clematis vine was growing on our customer's fence which was built one foot inside her property line. This is why we will never forget the next door neighbor's address until justice is done. Keep in mind.....I will have no personal involvement as to any future problems with the next door neighbor's property.
  6. LushGreenLawn

    LushGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,120

    It sounds like to me, your customer was in the wrong. They directed your guy to spray 1 foot outside of her property onto the neighbors property.

    I'm not saying the neighbor is not a jerk for turning you in for what seems like little to no damage, but you know as well as we do that any retaliation will be bad for you in the long run, if they turn you in for that, they will definatly turn you in for something deliberate, and then the fines will be much higher, be careful, People like that never win...
  7. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    That's just it...that is backwards of what it really is. American said that his customer''s fence is one foot on the INSIDE of the customer's property. So therefore, 1 foot beyond the fence is still the customers property. The neighbor however, has her climatis vine growing against the customers fence - which is ON the customers property.
    Now, the question would be...is it actually growing FROM the customer's property...In other words, is it planted on the customer''s prop., or is it growing OVER to the fence and then up. That is completely different. In that case, even though the vive is intruding over ON to the customer's property, while it can be trimmed and controlled, it cannot be eradicated or altered to the point of demise. Example....You are able to trim the neighbors tree branches that are coming over the fence, but only to a degree that it does not kill the tree.
    This is just a bummer deal on American's side, and I just don't think it's right.
  8. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Basically, what Runner said is how the law reads here too. You can cut and prune an invading plant that is growing onto a property, but that's it. You can't use any chemical, systemic or otherwise to stop the invasive growth.

    The guy behind me started ripping branches off my Japanese maple. not pruning or cutting, ripping them. That can damage my tree, and it's against the law. I let him know that the next time he did it, I would make an official complaint.

    Sorry, I think the fine was overboard, but you can't go around spraying invasive vegitation from neighboring properties. This is like what not to do 101, a prerquisitite to get a clue 101. This "applicator" doesn't know this?

    If he killed a 20 year old honeysuckle, that neighbor could sue... and win. Sounds like time for some in-house training to me. I know, being certified is BS, right?
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,070

    Ouch, painful lesson. I have done the same thing. Sometimes this results from fueding neighbors. I thnk I need to review the law in my state, michigan.

    I suppose it is too late to appeal, but if you have a chance to get your ag guys or her into court to testify in front of your attorney a few times--worth a shot. I think any judge would agree with you.
  10. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    What is there to appeal? An applicator applied a systemic herbicide to a neighbor's plant. That is illegal in every state, as far as I know. Just because the home owner demanded it is not an excusable reason to violate law. The applicator has to know what he can and cannot do, which in this case, he clearly was clueless.

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