Stopping Predatory Lawyers

April 14, 2017

Stepping to the microphone, Mrs. Elsie Herring – a Community Organizer for the Environmental Justice Network in Duplin County – explained to the reporters at the press conference why she opposed House Bill 467.

Mrs. Herring repeated the same charges she’d made for years: She said a farmer sprays hog waste eight feet from her house. She’s also said, in interviews, she lives as a prisoner in her own home – that she can’t go outside because of the smell.

It’s a horror story. But is it true?

Is a hog farmer actually spraying waste eight feet from Elsie Herring’s house?

Here’s a photo of Mrs. Herring’s house:

house

From her house, you can’t even see the farmer’s field. It’s on the far side of the trees.

Here’s another photo – an aerial photo – of Mrs. Herring’s house, the trees, and the farmer’s field on the far side of the trees.

ariel

The farmer’s field is 200 feet – not eight feet – from Mrs. Herring’s house. Which is state law – no farmer can spray within 200 feet of a neighbor’s house.

And here’s a photo Mrs. Herring, interviewing with another reporter, saying she’s a prisoner in her own house – while sitting on her front porch. Outside.

elsie herring interview

By law, every hog farmer must file a record with the state every time he sprays.

Four years ago, out-of-state lawyers – who saw hog farms as ripe targets for an unusual type of lawsuit – came to eastern North Carolina and went to work, going door to door, signing up clients. They said: We’ll bring the suits, we’ll pay the bills, and, if we win, we’ll split the money. Elsie Herring was one of the people who signed up.

On the internet, the debate over House Bill 467 has turned into a political brawl with half-true and untrue charges flying. What House Bill 467 actually does is simple – and here’s why it will make a difference: This legislation will protect family farmers from lawsuits by predatory lawyers.


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