November 2, 2023


Oklahoma, US mediation fails to resolve poultry lawsuit




After taking on mediation earlier this year, the state of Oklahoma and multiple poultry companies have failed to reach an agreement in the long-standing case dealing with poultry litter pollution in state watersheds, Meat + Poultry reported.


Separate status reports were filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma by both plaintiffs and defendants, confirming that despite three meetings in the last two months with the assigned mediator, retired 10th Circuit Chief Judge Deanell Reece Tacha, no agreement was reached.


In January, US District Judge Gregory Frizzell, who continues to oversee the case, directed the two sides to meet and attempt to reach an agreement after his favourable ruling for the state of Oklahoma, stating that all defendants had unreasonably interfered with the public’s right to the use and enjoyment of the waters of the Illinois River watershed in Oklahoma.


Extensions were granted in March to explore a solution, but the parties then moved to mediation.


Following the latest status report, the Office of the Attorney General of Oklahoma issued a statement, expressing the state's commitment to seeking a resolution that's in Oklahoma's best interests.


The Poultry Federation, multi-state trade organisation representing the poultry and egg industry in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, expressed concern that a settlement was not reached, emphasising the poultry companies' dedication to resolving the protracted litigation. They mentioned significant improvements in Illinois River water quality over the past 13 years.


In the status report, the Attorney General's office requested a December 1 deadline for all sides to submit a proposed journal entry of judgment in an attempt to find a settlement. The poultry industry's attorneys filed their status reports but did not provide a journal entry filing.


The case dates back to 2005 when then-Attorney General Drew Edmondson initiated legal proceedings regarding improper poultry litter disposal and environmental damage to the state's water by poultry companies, particularly related to the Illinois River watershed.


The poultry companies implicated in this case include Tyson Foods Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cargill Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc., Simmons Foods Inc., and other subsidiaries operating in Oklahoma.


-      Meat + Poultry

Video >

Follow Us