Plaintiffs are now four for four in the nuisance lawsuits facing Murphy-Brown and hog farms in North Carolina.  On December 12, the fourth nuisance case that reached a jury verdict in a federal courtroom in Raleigh went again in favor of the plaintiffs.  Three earlier jury verdicts also favored the plaintiffs.

North Carolina Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Sandy Stewart emphasized his concerns in that nobody with ties to agriculture has been allowed to serve on the juries.  “When they chose the jury, anybody who said they had a connection with agriculture was stricken from the list,” Stewart said at a conference in Greenville in December.

In the fourth trial, a federal judge ruled the plaintiffs are not entitled to punitive damages. but were awarded just over $100 million in compensatory damages.  The jury in the third trial in August imposed combined punitive damages and compensatory damages of $475 million against Murphy-Brown and the hog farm.  A North Carolina state law capping punitive damages reduced the amount to $94 million.

“Those of us in agriculture are less than two percent of the population.  If we choose to remain on the sidelines, we will get overrun.  We have to multiply our voices and speak with unity,” Stewart said. Stewart’s message on the importance of reaching out to non-farmers and telling them the story of agriculture is one that groups such as the Farm Bureau and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance have already been emphasizing.

There are still more nuisance lawsuits set to go to trial.  A total of 26 lawsuits with more than 500 plaintiffs have been brought against Murphy-Brown and eastern North Carolina hog farms.