Last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government could not be held financially responsible for issuing erroneous warnings about the source of an outbreak of foodborne illness that caused the loss of millions of dollars of tomatoes.

The warnings, issued by the FDA in 2008, turned out to be wildly inaccurate and deeply damaging.

At the time of the first warning, on June 3, the FDA documented several dozen cases of foodborne illness it wrongly claimed were caused from eating tomatoes. By the time the agency admitted its error on July 17, the FDA acknowledged more than 1,200 such cases had occurred. By that time, the salmonella cases had mushroomed into "the largest foodborne outbreak in the United States in more than a decade."

"Shipments ground to a halt," Anthony DiMare, whose family's company suffered enormous losses, told Congress. "Tomatoes were left in the fields, in the packinghouses and on trucks that were turned away by our customers."

A group of tomato growers and handlers, including DiMare, sued the FDA in federal claims court in 2013, arguing that the incorrect warnings had served effectively as a regulatory taking under the Fifth Amendment. They argued, as a judge wrote in a 2014 order in the case, "all or almost all of the value of plaintiffs' perishable tomatoes was destroyed by the collapse in the market for tomatoes triggered by the FDA's warnings."

Nevertheless, the judge rejected the claims of the tomato growers and handlers.

Read more at Reason.com