Smithfield Foods Inc. Hit in Federal Nuisance Lawsuit

Wall Street Journal writer Valerie Bauerlein reported on Friday that, “Chinese-owned pork giant Smithfield Foods Inc. lost a pivotal legal battle on Friday, as a federal jury awarded $25 million to a rural couple for the nuisance caused by living near a Smithfield contractor’s hog farm.

“The lawsuit is the second in a series of complaints brought by 500 rural North Carolinians who live near Smithfield contractors storing manure in open pools.

“Smithfield lost the first case earlier this spring, when a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina awarded $50 million to 10 families in Bladen County in the eastern part of the state. That amount was reduced to $3.25 million to align with state caps on damages.”

The Journal article noted that, “The earlier case was chosen by plaintiffs’ attorneys as their best argument in the bellwether cases setting the tone for the handling of the hundreds of others.

“Friday’s verdict was a particular blow for Smithfield because the company chose the case as its best chance to convince a jury that its contract farms did not pose a nuisance.”

Friday’s article also pointed out that, “Earlier this week, North Carolina’s legislature adopted a law restricting future lawsuits over hog farm nuisances. The new law does not affect the ongoing complaints.”

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