"LAS CRUCES, NM -- Helena Chemical Company has won its defamation suit against New Mexico social worker and community activist Arturo Uribe.
In a decision Thursday that could chill the activities of nonprofits, community activists and free speech advocates, a Dona Ana County jury awarded the company $75,000 in punitive damages. The company claimed that public presentations by Uribe utilized unsubstantiated imagery to represent Helena's operations, including images of disasters.
Uribe says he plans to appeal the ruling.
Helena Chemical, based in Tennessee, is a distributor of chemicals for agricultural, turf, forestry, landscaping and aquatics markets. The company maintains a warehouse in Mesquite, New Mexico about 30 yards from Uribe's home where chemicals are received, mixed and sold to farmers and ranchers.
In early 2004, the New Mexico Environment Department first inspected Helena's warehouse, and later that year, the state issued a Notice of Violation against Helena for operating its plant without an air quality permit and in 2005 fined the company $233,777 for failure to comply with New Mexico's air quality laws and regulations."
Environment News Service had the story April 12, 2010.