A Ventura County judge has rejected a citrus rancher's challenge to a lawsuit accusing him and his foreman of endangering children by negligently spraying a toxic pesticide near an elementary school.
The ruling, issued Friday by Superior Court Judge Henry J. Walsh, allows the case to proceed toward trial.
Lawyers for east Ventura rancher Daniel Campbell had filed court papers challenging the legal sufficiency of an environmental lawsuit brought by the Ventura County district attorney.
In part, the lawyers contend the California Department of Food and Agriculture oversees pesticide regulation--not the district attorney.
Therefore, they argue, local prosecutors have no standing to bring a suit against Campbell.
But Walsh disagreed, ruling the case is not limited to establishing proper pesticide application programs.
"This is an action," he wrote, "to enjoin improper spraying based on alleged damage/injury to third persons."
Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Greg Brose, who supervises the district attorney's consumer and environmental protection unit, said he was pleased by the decision.