LOS ANGELES – Roche Cyrulnik Freedman filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the Eastern District of California on behalf of Apothio LLC, alleging that Kern County and state officials violated Apothio’s civil and constitutional rights when they bulldozed 500 acres of hemp crops worth an estimated $1 billion.
The lawsuits name as defendants Kern County, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, KCSO Sergeant Joshua Nicholson, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, CDFW Director Charles Bonham, and other unknown county and state officials.
Founded in 2014, Plaintiff Apothio LLC researches and commercializes hemp plants for use in foods, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals, including to treat Dravet syndrome and other catastrophic types of epilepsy. Apothio is an established agricultural research institution, or “EARI,” which allows it to legally research and commercialize hemp under both federal and state law.
Katherine Eskovitz, a lead partner on the case, stated: “Federal and California law now recognize the significance of, and encourage, hemp research and commercialization. But instead of supporting Apothio’s valuable work—including its leading research on non-psychoactive CBD and other cannabinoids to treat epilepsy and other life-threatening conditions—the Defendants showed up without warning in full tactical gear and ordered the farmers to demolish all of the hemp crops. Apothio was transparent with government officials about its operations in Kern County, which it conducted by the book. This lawsuit seeks to vindicate Apothio’s rights for what appears to be one of the largest wholesale destructions of private property by government entities in the history of the U.S.”
“As reported by the Guardian, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office has an alleged history of trampling on civil and constitutional rights, and we believe that the crop destruction alleged in this case is yet another egregious abuse of government power. This lawsuit seeks to hold the KCSO and the other defendants accountable for their misconduct” said Joseph Delich, a lead partner on the case.
Representing Apothio from Roche Cyrulnik Freedman are Katherine Eskovitz, Joseph Delich, Kyle Roche, and Richard Cipolla. Also representing Apothio are co-counsel Sean Eskovitz and Brant Bishop.
The case is Apothio LLC v. Kern County et al., No. 20-cv-00266. A copy of the complaint can be found here: https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.caed.372076/gov.uscourts.caed.372076.1.0.pdf