$50M Awarded to Neighbors Over Feces-Spraying Pork Farm

Smithfield Foods says it will appeal
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2018 11:00 AM CDT
In this March 10, 2009, file photo, Smithfield Food products are on display at the Ukrops store in Richmond, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

(Newser) – The 10 North Carolina plaintiffs who say a pork farm near their homes is endangering their health by, among other things, spraying hog urine and feces onto nearby fields, have won a big victory. A federal jury has awarded each plaintiff $5 million in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory damages, Modern Farmer reports. The more than $50 million in awards is to be paid by Smithfield Foods—the company for which the North Carolina hog operation, Kinlaw Farms, raises the animals. In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs complained of large pits holding hog feces that, in addition to causing horrible smells, attracted buzzards and insects. They say the sprayed feces sometimes even ends up in their homes, the Daily Press reports.

Smithfield says it will appeal. The case, the ham giant says in a statement, is "an outrageous attack on animal agriculture" and that this and dozens of similar lawsuits—involving more than 500 neighbors in total—"are a serious threat to a major industry, to North Carolina's entire economy, and to the jobs and livelihoods of tens of thousands of North Carolinians." Modern Farmer points out that even if Smithfield loses its appeal, lawmakers with ties to the hog industry successfully put a limit on the amount of money plaintiffs can receive in this type of lawsuit, so the plaintiffs may ultimately only be able to collect $250,000 in punitive damages. The Wall Street Journal says it's unclear whether the new state law will apply in this case.

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