Court likely to appoint food safety expert Lapsley to settle Amos Miller mess

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Food safety expert George D. Lapsley is in line for the court appointment to settle the mess known as the Amos Miller case.

US Assistant Attorneys Gregory B. David and Gerald B. Sullivan offered to appoint Lapsley as an expert in the case to assist the court by 1.) verifying whether the defendants are complying with court enforcement orders, 2.) assisting to facilitate specific provisions in these orders, 3.) submit written reports, and 4.) provide testimony.

The motion, filed in the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, asks anyone to show why Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm should not be held in further contempt of the injunctive order of November 2019 Court and April 2020 Consent Decree, and July 22, 2021 Contempt Sanctions Order.

They are asking federal judge Edward Smith to consider appointing Lapsley as the court’s expert, saying he is widely known to the parties. Miller offered his name as an independent third party.

Although USDA-FSIS quickly approved Lapsley for this role – to inventory Miller’s meat and poultry – he backed out of further consideration when he and Miller could not reach a contractual agreement, indicates the motion.

Lapsley has since expressed interest in playing a neutral role in the case.

Government attorneys represent USDA-FSIS against Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm, located in Bird-In-Hand PA. They want to shut down Miller’s meat and poultry operations, sales and related businesses. They want the court adjuster to take inventory of the meat and poultry and probably liquidate the meat and poultry products.

In recent months, Miller has attempted to replace his Dallas attorney with a sovereign citizen organization out of Washington state. Justice Smith vetoed that decision.

“The enforcement litigation at this stage – the Court and the government still seeking to avoid more coercive remedies for civil contempt such as imprisonment – thus presents the rather rare circumstance where the court’s appointment of Rule 706 of an impartial expert is appropriate and necessary to advance the interests of justice,” the government motion says.

George Lapsley Enterprises has been an independent corporate food safety contractor since 1996. He holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree from Temple University. He also did graduate work in meat and food science at California State University-Chico.

Lapsley’s appointment as court expert won’t be known until 10 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2022, when Justice Smith takes the “Show Cause” order at the federal courthouse in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Smith will hear oral arguments on further injunctive relief and civil contempt penalties. Under July’s contempt finding, Miller was fined $250,000, but Smith has his collection pending.

Smith ordered Steven LaFuente, the Dallas attorney Miller fired, to serve the defendants with a copy of his final order. The judge has yet to release LaFuent from the case.

The government first filed the current civil suit against Miller on April 4, 2019. Miller operates farms in at least two states and is a multi-state meat and poultry marketer with a club system for buyers.

Separately, government prosecutors prepared a 55-page draft order for Smith to review in February. It is a “facts and rights” document that outlines what Miller should do.

“The Court will use the following benchmarks to determine such compliance that would allow the defendants to serve and return any remaining portion of the fine filed:

  • First: Defendants and their agents must immediately cease all operations, sales and other activities related to meat and poultry, as contemplated in the injunctive provisions above.
  • Second: Pursuant to the provisions of the above injunction, the defendants shall complete an inventory under the direction and to the satisfaction of the court-appointed expert in this case.
  • Third: After completion of inventory, defendants shall effect liquidations and dispositions of proceeds as contemplated in the injunctive provisions above, at the direction and to the satisfaction of the court-appointed expert.
  • Fourth: If, after these first three steps are completed to the satisfaction of the court-appointed expert and FSIS, defendants – if they wish to resume or begin justifiable meat or poultry operations – should establish at the satisfaction of the court-appointed expert and FSIS they have applied for, obtained, and are otherwise in compliance with applicable licensing, grant, exemption, and record-keeping requirements that would permit such transactions to occur.
  • Fifth: If Defendants meet this fourth criterion, then (and only then) can they begin applicable meat and poultry operations with some oversight, full disclosure, proper record keeping practices, and cooperation with FSIS , until the Court determines that monitoring is not necessary. no longer necessary.

Unless and until Defendants meet all of these criteria, the $250,000 fine will be used (consistent with Defendants’ previously expressed concern that any fine amount be used to fund their compliance efforts ) to pay the costs and fees of the court-appointed expert.

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