A North Carolina jury delivered a unanimous verdict on pork producer Murphy-Brown LLC on Thursday in a groundbreaking case that could pave the way for further lawsuits against livestock.
The company plans appeal.
19659003 Altogether, the jurors awarded more than $ 50 million to 10 plaintiffs living near the pig farm, claiming compensation of $ 75,000 and punitive damages of $ 5 million per plaintiff.
It is unclear whether a state law cuts punitive damages The higher of three cases would result in damages of $ 250,000.
The plaintiffs accused Murphy-Brown of failing to take the necessary steps to remove disgusting, recurrent odors and other causes of harassment, including pests that routinely plagued their property.
The jury's verdict in North Carolina federal court is the first in a series of lawsuits against Murphy-Brown, the North Carolina-based subsidiary of the Chinese WH Group, the world's largest pork producer, who bought 201
A second so-called "bellwether case" is planned
Bellwether cases are selected to test arguments and determine possible recovery rates for other similar plaintiffs in order to achieve a large-scale solution.
"These lawsuits are a monstrous attack on North Carolina's animal husbandry and thousands of independent family farmers owning and operating contract farms,"
A Smithfield Foods representative said in a statement after the verdict.
The US is the second largest pork producer in the world, after China. The pig industry in North Carolina is the second largest in the US after Iowa.
-Jacob Bunge contributed to this article
Write to Maria Armental at [email protected]