Looking for what it called a “non-confusing, non-biased” legal perspective on the North Carolina hog farm nuisance trials involving Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, Meat Packing Journal turned to Bailey Brauer co-founder Clayton Bailey for its July-August 2018 cover story, “Successful Lawsuit Means Open Season On US Producers.”
A trial and appellate attorney known nationally for his work within the agriculture industry, Mr. Bailey spoke in-depth on the key issues in the case against the hog farm and the potential impact of the original $50 million jury verdict.
“Allegedly, the hog farm complied with laws regulating its operations, but the problem concerned the impact of that operation on the neighbours and whether the neighbours’ rights were infringed. The crux of the lawsuit boiled down to whether the hog farm’s operations substantially and unreasonably interfered with the neighbours’ use and enjoyment of their property,” said Mr. Bailey, in reference to the impact the smells and sounds emanating from a hog farm has on a nearby residential development .
“When you move into a rural area, you have to anticipate animal sounds and smells. It’s like electing to live in Manhattan, New York, and becoming offended by hearing sirens, honking horns, and smelling car exhaust – what did you expect? That said, hog farms need to be good neighbours by taking reasonable steps to mitigate against sounds and smells. Other ways to be a good neighbour are to communicate, be proactive, and address complaints. Based on my experience, problems like the one in North Carolina can be avoided if there is good communication because the offended party is more likely to want to work with the farmer/company than to get involved in a legal fight.”
Mr. Bailey also discussed what the future might hold for the North Carolina hog industry following the $50 million plaintiffs’ award.
“Nuisance cases have been filed and litigated against hog farms for quite some time. This case is something of an outlier, however, due to the size of the verdict. The plaintiffs’ success in this case could catapult similar lawsuits, not only against companies involved in hog production, but other industries.”
The full article can be found at: https://issuu.com/meatpacking/docs/mpj_jul_aug_digital_edition.