In this file:
· Pork giant Smithfield Foods loses another neighbors' lawsuit
Smithfield Foods was found responsible Friday for a fifth time for nuisances neighbors suffered from waste generated by thousands of the company's hogs…
· Fifth North Carolina Hog Nuisance Suit; Ag Groups File First Appeal
As the fifth hog nuisance lawsuit against Murphy Brown LLC, a subsidiary owned by Smithfield Foods, finished closing arguments this week, an appeals court in Virginia received an amicus brief for the first lawsuit…
Pork giant Smithfield Foods loses another neighbors' lawsuit
By Emery P. Dalesio, Associated Press
via WSOC-TV (NC) - Mar 8, 2019
RALEIGH, N.C. - Smithfield Foods was found responsible Friday for a fifth time for nuisances neighbors suffered from waste generated by thousands of the company's hogs. Jurors determined the pork giant should pay $420,000 after four previous juries awarded nearly $550 million in penalties.
Most of the damages awarded were intended to punish Smithfield Foods for its actions, but a state law limiting the size of punitive awards means they are automatically capped.
Friday's verdict was the second time a jury heard about intense smells, clouds of flies and other conditions around the same Duplin County operation that raised about 5,000 of the company's animals.
For this five-week trial, plaintiffs' lawyers hand-picked the 10 neighbors, who have lived on their Duplin County land for decades. Company lawyers previously picked two other neighbors of Joey Carter's farm. In July, jurors awarded them $25 million in damages.
A federal judge has the two sides alternating who picks cases for juries to consider, anticipating it could lead to a negotiated settlement that could resolve dozens of lawsuits and the claims of more than 500 neighbors.
Agricultural interests and sympathetic politicians have warned the lawsuits threaten all farmers if whopping penalties can be slapped on operations that are regulated and annually inspected as North Carolina hog operations are.
"We believe that this verdict is unfair and unjust. It presents an unwarranted threat to North Carolina farm families and to all agriculture across the country," company spokeswoman Keira Lombardo wrote in an email Friday.
Carter, a former police chief in the nearby town of Beulaville, was not sued. Smithfield Foods was held responsible because the company's hog-raising division uses strict contracts to dictate how farm operators raise livestock that Smithfield owns.
But Carter hasn't had a revenue-producing hog on his farm since October and Smithfield quit sending new animals there since May, Lombardo said in an email this week. She did not respond when asked whether Smithfield removed its animals because Carter was deemed to be breaching his contract. The company wrote in May to another farm operator, William Kinlaw, after Smithfield lost a related lawsuit that he breeched his contract with the pork giant by failing to control odors and "maintain proper sanitation."
For both operations, Smithfield is paying the hog operations - in amounts the company didn't specify - while it appeals the cases, Lombardo said. The payments to Carter are "an attempt to offset the adverse impact these lawsuits have on family farmers like him and on communities like Beulaville," Lombardo wrote.
Environmental advocates have cheered the big penalties as finally forcing pork producers to acknowledge long-standing complaints from neighbors and claims that animal waste has polluted waterways...
Fifth North Carolina Hog Nuisance Suit; Ag Groups File First Appeal
Sara Brown, FarmJournal's AgPro
March 8, 2019
As the fifth hog nuisance lawsuit against Murphy Brown LLC, a subsidiary owned by Smithfield Foods, finished closing arguments this week, an appeals court in Virginia received an amicus brief for the first lawsuit.
The case currently ongoing is the second involving the farm of Joey Carter of Beaulaville, Va. In closing arguments, lawyer Michael Keaske asked the jury to award each of 10 neighbors to the farm compensatory damages of between $30 million and $50 million.
In April 2018, a federal jury awarded 10 neighbors of Kinlaw Farms, a 15,000-head swine operation, a total of $750,000 in compensation and $500 million in punitive damages. The suit did not name the hog farm, focusing instead on Smithfield, who owns the animals. Three other cases also ended in favor of plaintiffs.
The appeal filing, made by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council and the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, said the N.C. Right to Farm Act of 1979 protects the farmers from these kinds of lawsuits.
The brief said the farm had complied with the state’s comprehensive regulations and industry-wide best practices. Additionally...
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