Iowa Supreme Court: Large Animal Feeding Operations Retain Protection From Nuisance Lawsuits

Des Moines Register writer Stephen Gruber-Miller reported late last week that, “Iowa can shield large animal feeding operations from lawsuits brought by neighbors who say they are no longer able to enjoy their property, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.

“The shield law is a valid use of the state’s power to pass laws that promote public health and safety, even though individual producers, not the public, directly benefit, the court said in its unanimous ruling.”

The Register article stated, “But the court reaffirmed that there is some recourse for neighbors to sue if they can successfully prove that:

  • The animal operation’s immunity from nuisance lawsuits has not in fact benefited the neighbors.
  • They have sustained significant hardship.
  • They lived on their property ‘long before’ the CAFO began operating.

“The test for plaintiffs to successfully sue was laid out in a 2004 Iowa Supreme Court decision, Gacke v. Pork Xtra.”

Last week’s article added, “Kristine Tidgren, director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University, called the decision a win for animal producers who still have a shield from nuisance lawsuits. The plaintiffs had asked the Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional in all circumstances.

“‘The plaintiffs just wanted this statute gone, and the court said no,’ she said.

“But by leaving the Gacke test in place, the court’s ruling means CAFO operators will have to continue to show up for potentially costly court proceedings to prove they were operating within the law.”

This entry was posted in Agriculture Law. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.