In North Carolina, Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto of Bill Limiting Civil Awards in Farm Odor Lawsuits

Associated Press writer¬†Gary D. Robertson reported late last week that, “The Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill that limits awards in lawsuits over the odors from hog and chicken farms, marking the fourth Cooper veto that lawmakers have rejected.

“With no debate, the Senate completed the override with a 30-18 vote on Thursday. The day before, the House also agreed the bill should become law despite Cooper’s objections. The law applies to future ‘nuisance’ actions filed against farming and forestry operations, but not to pending lawsuits, some of which prompted the legislation.

“The new law restricts compensatory damages against farming and forestry operations to the reduction in value of lost property or the rental value of affected properties, capped at the fair market or rental value. The law doesn’t alter the current rules on punitive damages a jury could assess.”

The AP article noted that, “Bill supporters, which included the pork industry with its industrial-scale farms in eastern North Carolina, said the limits would rein in lawsuits in which attorneys sought awards well above the value of the property at issue.”

Mr. Robertson added that, “In his veto message last week, Cooper said that while the industries targeted in the law should be encouraged to thrive, he was worried the special protections opened the door to weakening civil actions in other nuisance matters and harm homeowners and the environment.

¬†Cooper repeated those concerns in a statement Thursday night, saying he was disappointed by the legislature’s actions ‘that weaken nuisance laws and fail to protect property rights.'”
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