Nuisance Lawsuits Affect More than Smithfield & Hog FarmersMay 2, 2018
After reading how a jury in a federal courtroom in Raleigh awarded 10 people – who’d sued Smithfield Foods over one hog farm – $50 million, because the farm was a ‘nuisance,’ a puzzled farmer in a nearby county observed, I obey the laws. I comply with all the regulations. I’ve never had a violation. But I can still be sued for millions of dollars? How does that make sense?
And a lady, who raises hogs on her farm, raised a different question. In an email, she explained her hog farm employs two workers and also pays a truck driver. She buys parts and equipment from local stores. She buys insurance from a local agency, supplies at a local hardware store, and pays rent for land – in addition to her own land – to retired farmers. Her family eats at local restaurants, buys oil and gas from local service stations, and cars or trucks from local automobile dealers. And she pays property taxes which, in turn, pay for schools.
Her point? It’s not just hog farmers who stand to be hurt by that verdict in Raleigh. It’s people in communities and small towns across North Carolina.
Right now, that $50 million-dollar verdict involving one farm is being appealed. But a second lawsuit filed by the lawyers, about another farm, begins May 29th. And there’re eight more lawsuits on the docket in federal court after those two. And a lot of people – from truck drivers to hardware store owners to insurance agents – who’ve never raised a hog have a stake in the outcome.
Hog farming is one of the pillars of North Carolina’s economy. Let’s hope wiser heads – and justice – prevail in the Court of Appeals.