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Yakima Dairy Lawsuits Update

20:23PM Dec 22, 2014

Source: Idaho Dairymen’s Association December 2014 Dairy Focus newsletter

Editor’s Note: Last summer, Dairy Today Western editor profiled dairies being sued by environmental groups, even though they have been in compliance with local and state waste and water management rules. Read her story here.  And here’s an update on the cases from the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.

Over the past month, Judge Rice allowed plaintiffs to add new parties to both the Cow Palace and Liberty/Bosma cases. Things are nearing an end in the lead case, Cow Palace: discovery is closed, experts have been deposed and all parties have filed many motions.

The Defendants (both the original dairy and, separately, the newly added entities) have filed motions for summary judgment, a motion to dismiss the case for lack of standing, and a motion to exclude the EPA Report as scientifically unreliable.

Plaintiffs have filed a motion for summary judgment and multiple motions to exclude witness testimony. The Court will hold a hearing on all the pending motions on January 6 in Spokane. Judge Rice indicated on a recent call that he will issue a written opinion on the motions for summary judgment within 3-4 days after argument.

Because of that, and his thought that the Cow Palace case could be significantly changed based on his ruling, he decided to delay or suspend the deadlines in each of the cases. Cow Palace is now set for trial beginning on March 23, 2015, and all pre-trial deadlines are reset accordingly to afford Judge Rice time to issue his decision on the pending summary judgment motions. Liberty/Bosma is set for trial on May 11, 2015, and the parties are directed to work together to find a trial date for DeRuyter that is 45-60 days after Liberty/Bosma.

The importance of this case and how it has the potential to impact all of agriculture was demonstrated when several parties, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Farm Bureau, the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, and the Washington Cattle Feeders Association, moved to file “friend of the court” briefs supporting the defense of the dairies.

As expected, the plaintiffs have opposed this motion. We will continue to keep the IDA Membership informed as these cases develop and are decided.