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County, Monsanto, others want former resident’s lawsuit dismissed

A photo from 2011 of the Sunshine Lake and Sunrise Waterway system from Charlotte County. Above the photo it reads: “The green color of the lake indicates that water quality issues existed in 2011.” IMAGE FROM CHARLOTTE COUNTY

PORT CHARLOTTE — After just two weeks living in Port Charlotte, Michele Stevens claims she experienced a multitude of symptoms, such as dizziness, memory loss, Tinnitus, neurological problems and loss of consciousness.

The culprit?

She attributes her ailments to an aquatic herbicide sprayed by the Charlotte County in Sunshine Lake along her yard.

Nine lawyers met Tuesday morning to discuss Stevens’ case against Monsanto Company, Charlotte County and six other entities, during a hearing at the Punta Gorda courthouse.

Stevens filed a complaint for personal injuries with the 20th Judicial Circuit Court in Charlotte County Feb. 4.

In response, defendants in the complaint filed motions to dismiss, including Charlotte County, Monsanto Company, Helena Agri Enterprises, Walker Services, Home Depot, DOW Agrosciences, Albaugh and Sunshine Ace Hardware.

Charlotte County argued the case’s counts of negligence and nuisance against the county fall out of the requirements that these claims be submitted within three years after the claim takes place.

Meanwhile, Monsanto Company, along with Helena Agri Enterprises, argues Stevens did not meet the burden of product identification and causation, meaning she did not properly prove this company’s products were used to make her sick and that they were the cause of her ailments.

These arguments were heard by Judge Lisa Porter during Tuesday’s hearing. After hearing each argument, Porter took the matter under advisement, and will make a decision later.

Stevens voluntarily dismissed her claims against Bayer Corporation and Bayer AG earlier this month, court records show.

Stevens moved to Port Charlotte in December 2010. She now resides in the Ocala area, according to her attorney, Steven Marks.