RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Lawyers for the world’s largest pork producer say jurors shouldn’t hear about the finances of a company that allegedly ignored complaints for years when they’re presented again with claims that industrial-scale hog operations harm rural neighbors.
Jury selection starts Tuesday in a Raleigh, North Carolina, federal court over claims the method in which Hong Kong-owned, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods raises hogs creates intense smells and clouds of flies. As many as ten of the two dozen lawsuits by more than 500 neighbors could be tried this year.
The first case ended last month with jurors punishing Smithfield by awarding 10 neighbors of a 15,000-head swine operation $50 million in punitive damages. But the judge slashed that to $2.5 million, citing a state law that limits the cost of corporate misdeeds.
FILE – This July 21, 2017, file photo shows young hogs at Everette Murphrey Farm in Farmville, N.C. Industrial-scale hog producers knew for decades that noxious smells from open-air sewage pits tormented neighbors but didn’t change their livestock-raising methods to keep production costs low, the lawyer for farm neighbors told jurors in a federal lawsuit Tuesday, April 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
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