In Kansas City last week, 14 residents in rural northwest Missouri filed a claim against a hog farmer in their area, claiming that the hog odors are intolerable and are preventing them from enjoying their properties.
The hog farm belongs to Premium Standard Farms (PSF). The same plaintiffs sued this company back in 1999 and received $100,000 each in settlement money for the same complaint. Their new lawsuit brings up the issue of whether a hog farm that complies with all the state environmental regulations should also meet some different standards for resident neighbors.
Other Similar Suits
One of the plaintiff attorneys, one Charlie Speer, appears to be making a specialty of hog odor lawsuits. He has stated that this case is just one of hundreds of pending cases he has in Missouri against large hog farms. In 2009, he won a $1.2 million settlement amount in a separate southwest Missouri case and considers that case to have “set the bar” for his future settlements.
Since 1999, Speer has won nearly $10 million from PSF and its affiliates. He expects this new trial to run for about three weeks and has tried to portray PSF and its parent company as vast suckers of money out of the state of Missouri. He claims they send the money to rich executives on the East Coast, apparently overlooking the fact that a large hog farm would be employing local people. This particular hog farm sends 200,000 animals to slaughter every year.
On the other side of this dispute, attorneys for PSF claim that Speer is just after money himself and his activities are causing a lot of damage to Missouri’s agricultural economy.
A property owner is always expected to keep his or her property safe for visitors. That is basic premises liability and if you were to slip and fall on somebody’s property because maintenance had been neglected, you would probably have a valid legal claim.
In the case of a hog farm, odor is surely inevitable and apparently these hog farms comply with all regulations. Further, the plaintiffs have lived in the area for many decades and are in fact retired farmers themselves. Time will tell if this is a frivolous lawsuit or if hog farms must somehow reduce odor even further than government regulations require them to.
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