Fifth North Carolina Nuisance Case Lands Another Blow to Pig Farmers

Piglets ( Jo WIndmann )

For the fifth time, a North Carolina jury has come down against a Smithfield-owned subsidiary for claims of nuisance from neighbors of the hog farm.

This is the second case against a Duplin County operation that raised about 5,000 pigs, owned by Joey Carter, who was not named in the lawsuit. In this trial, jurors determined Smithfield should pay $420,000 in damages to 10 neighbors.

In July, jurors awarded $25 million to other neighbors of the Duplin County operation.

To date, juries have dealt nearly $550 million in penalties to Smithfield in five cases. In each case, prosecutors asked the jury to punish Smithfield Foods for its actions. However, a state law limits the size of punitive awards.

Twenty-one cases remain. The first appeal of the verdicts was heard this past week.

Many agricultural groups and politicians in the state and national levels have warned similar lawsuits might threaten other farmers, even operations that are regulated and annually inspected such as North Carolina hog operations are.

“We believe that this verdict is unfair and unjust. It presents an unwarranted threat to North Carolina farm families and to all agriculture across the country,” Smithfield spokeswoman Keira Lombardo wrote in an email to the Associated Press on Friday.

Carter, a former police chief in Beulaville, hasn’t had pigs on the farm since October. Smithfield is paying the hog operations, while it appeals the cases, Lombardo said.

 


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