By Charlotte Smith
Following days of deliberation; the hog industry loses the fourth battle held in a federal court room in Raleigh. The jury made up of 10 women and 2 men ruled in favor of eight neighbors suing Murphy Brown, LLC for nuisances claims.
The Sampson County hog farm, Sholar Farm, was at the center of the fourth trial. The hog industry is in the middle of a series of over 20 lawsuits. Each lawsuit involves neighbors of hog farms claiming foul odors, annoying pests and excessive noises all due to the operations of area hog farms infringing on their right to enjoy their property.
According to reports the eight plaintiffs in the fourth trial were awarded 100$ to 75,000$ in compensation for their nuisances claims. However, the jury is not done with their decision making process for the hog industry lawsuit. After the announcement Wednesday morning, the jury began the punitive damages hearings.
The last three hog nuisance cases ended with neighbors being awarded multi millions of dollars in punitive damages.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Michael Kaeske, reminds the jury about the courtroom being a place to ignite changes needed in our communities.
James Neale, an attorney from Murphy-Brown argues the hog industry has made many improvements over the years.
Punitive damages are awarded in addition to actual damages in certain circumstances. Punitive damages are considered punishment and are typically awarded at the court’s discretion when the defendant’s behavior is found to be especially harmful. Punitive damages are normally not awarded in the context of a breach of contract claim, according to Cornell Law.
The plaintiffs attorney’s must prove to the jury now why punitive damages should be awarded.
The jury may be able to reach a verdict on punitive damages sometime this week after arguments are heard on both sides.