July 2, 2018
Smithfield to pay damages to US farmers for causing nuisances
Pork producer Smithfield has been ordered by a federal jury to pay two neighbours in North Carolina, US, more than US$25 million for unreasonable nuisances caused by odours, files and rumbling trucks, WWAY NewsChannel 3 reported.
The problems arose following the expansion of an industrial-scale hog grower near the neighbours' home.
Smithfield had previously faced another lawsuit launched by more than 500 neighbours who were suing industrial-scale hog farms in eastern North Carolina. The case concluded in April with 10 neighbours being awarded US$51 million for nuisances suffered. However, the fine imposed on Smithfield was reduced to about US$3 million as North Carolina's law restricts punitive damages.
The latest damages the company has to pay could also be cut. In addition, the case had prompted legislators to pass a law which will protect North Carolinian farmers from "frivolous lawsuits," according to bill sponsor Senator Brent Jackson, an agribusiness founder.
More than a half-dozen lawsuits are scheduled this year and will act against Smithfield for its open-pit waste handling methods.
The focus of the lawsuits is the company's hog production division and not farm operators, as the plaintiffs' lawyers said Smithfield has strict contracts to control how farmers raise livestock that it owns.
- WWAY NewsChannel 3