Two Miami Beach residents’ lawsuit to halt the aerial spraying of naled, the pesticide used to fight Zika in Miami-Dade County, was thrown out of court Wednesday.
Their efforts were stymied by their lack of legal representation, which federal judge Federico Moreno pointed out immediately.
“Shouldn’t you have a lawyer to file a lawsuit?” he asked Cindy Mattson, president and CEO of a human resource consulting company.
“I think it’s a good idea,” she said. “We’re interviewing candidates.”
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Moreno dismissed the complaint — put forward by Mattson and Dr. Michael Hall and sponsored by Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez — because the suit was brought against the wrong parties.
Hall and Mattson aimed the suit at Gov. Rick Scott, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Their hearing Wednesday was an attempt to stop the spray of naled with an emergency federal injunction. Moreno shot it down.
“An injunction is not just granted out of the blue,” he said.
Moreno explained that he didn’t have the authority to issue an injunction because the suit appeared to be out of his jurisdiction, among other errors in the complaint.
Hall protested, and rattled off his arguments against the controversial pesticide.
“We feel that there is irreparable harm going on,” he said.
But attorneys for the county pointed out there was nothing to stop. The last aerial spray was July 3, and Assistant County Attorney Dennis Kerbel said there are no scheduled sprays.
Kerbel objected to the notion that Miami-Dade wasn’t following the rules or was “poisoning” its residents and called the arguments in the suit “misinformation.”
Hall and Mattson have two months to fix the errors in their complaint and try again. In addition to the legal route, they want to present an ordinance to lawmakers. Mattson said the goal is to “put pressure on the top.”
In Moreno’s opinion, conversations with agency heads or politicians might lead to a speedier solution than the courts.
“Even in a fast court, with a fast judge, it’ll take the summer,” Moreno told Hall and Mattson. “And you know what happens at the end of the summer? No more mosquitoes. It becomes moot.”
Correction: A previous version of this story listed South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard as a sponsor of the suit, based on information from Hall and Mattson. Stoddard said he’s not a formal sponsor, but he has advised the plaintiffs on the matter previously.