A federal judge on Thursday brought the fourth hog farm nuisance trial to an abrupt halt by ruling the plaintiffs presented insufficient evidence to impose punitive damages. While it’s the fourth loss for the hog industry, it’s a major turn considering the low monetary damages.
The jury in the hog nuisance trial of eight Sampson County neighbors against the world’s largest pork producer rendered a verdict awarding between $100 and $75,000 to each in compensation.
During the punitive damage phase of the trial, reports say the plaintiffs’ attorney attempted to enter seven exhibits, but only three were allowed. Citing a lack of evidence to continue, Judge David Faber of West Virginia threw out the request, ending a trial that began Nov. 14. This is the first trial presided by Faber, who replaced Judge W. Earl Britt of North Carolina.
The total compensation was $102,400, broken down into four awards of $100 each, two of $1,000 each and one each of $25,000 and $75,000.
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“While we recognize that the outcome of this trial was far more favorable for our subsidiary Murphy-Brown and our industry than the three previous trials, we continue to believe these lawsuits are an abuse of the legal system and an attack on agriculture,” said Keira Lombardo, Smithfield senior vice president of corporate affairs. “We will continue to vigorously defend them.”
The next trial is scheduled for January.
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