Iowa Legislature Advances Bills that Limit Lawsuit Damages to Livestock Producers

Des Moines Register writers¬†William Petroski and Brianne Pfannenstiel reported last week that, “Bills aimed at limiting lawsuit damages in cases filed against Iowa livestock producers were advanced Thursday in the Iowa Senate and House.

“A Senate subcommittee voted 3-0 to advance Senate Study Bill 1144, which allows for an affirmative defense to be raised when an animal feeding operation is alleged to be a public or private nuisance or otherwise interfere with a person’s enjoyment of life or property. The legislation suggests the public interest is served by preserving and encouraging responsible animal agricultural production.

The affirmative defense limits compensatory damages, as opposed to punitive damages, and specifies three categories of awards. In addition, a party that files suit and fails to prove that an animal feeding operation is a public or private nuisance is liable to pay the defendant for all costs and expenses, including attorney fees.”

The Register article added that, “A matching bill, House Study Bill 134, passed through the House Agriculture committee 17-6.”

“Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, said the legislation intended to offer an incentive [for] good behavior by providing ‘limited’ protections from lawsuits,” the article noted.

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