In this case, the roses from the plaintiffs, a company specialized in rose breeding, have been destroyed by the defendant, a weed spreading contractor in charge of managing public lands nearby the greenhouse. The defendant sprayed his herbicide which drifted into the ventilation system of the greenhouses where the plaintiff was growing his roses and resulted in the loss of the entire rose crop.
The plaintiffs sued the weed spreading contractor and the Department of Land and Survey under the supervision of which the defendant was working.
The High Court of first instance found that both the Department of Land and Survey were negligent and consequently had an equal responsibility in the destruction of the roses. As the Department was supposed to supervise the operations, the Judges thought that it should bear the complete responsibility for the destruction of the roses because it did not have a staff member to supervise this dangerous operation. Finally, the court considered that the destruction of the roses resulting from the spraying of the herbicide in the greenhouse was an unwarranted and unreasonable use of the property occupied by the Department.
The Attorney General appealed the decision in front of the New Zealand Court of Appeal. The judges of the Court of Appeal followed the decision of the High Court and only mitigated the compensation which was considered to be too high.