In Fourth Hog Waste Trial in North Carolina, Jury Sides with Plaintiff Neighbors

Craig Jarvis and Josh Shaffer reported yesterday at the News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) Online that, “A federal court jury on Wednesday ruled in favor of eight Sampson County neighbors who sued the world’s largest pork producer for bringing foul odors and excessive noise to their rural community.

The plaintiffs were each awarded between $100 and $75,000 to compensate them for harm caused by living near a hog farm. Following Wednesday morning’s verdict the jury began hearing testimony in the punitive damages phase of the trial on Wednesday afternoon. The jury is likely to decide later this week on the amount of punitive damages, if any.

“Based on the three previous hog nuisance trials, all of which the company also lost, punitive damages could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Yesterday’a article stated that, “Murphy-Brown attorney James Neale of Richmond, Va., said the plaintiffs’ contentions about the hog industry have nothing to do with the specific farm that is the subject of the trial. He listed improvements the company has made over the years to address concerns.

“Punitive damages, Neale said, are reserved for the worst corporate offenders. The allegations in this trial fall short of that standard, he said. Citing state law, Neale said punitive damages require clear and convincing evidence of personal ill will or conscious and intentional disregard of the rights and safety of others.”

The article added that, “This latest trial is the fourth such case against Murphy-Brown.

“In August, a federal jury awarded $470 million to neighbors of a Pender County farm run by Murphy-Brown, an award that was reduced due to a state cap on punitive damages. Under the cap, punitive damages can’t exceed three times compensatory damages or $250,000.”

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