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1,700 Pigs Die of Suffocation

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (CN) - A pork company and its insurer sued a South Dakota farm and a tech company, blaming them for the deaths of more than 1,700 pigs who suffocated.

Westfield Insurance Co. and Wakefield Pork are sued Jensen Farms and Phonetics Inc. dba Sensaphone, on Jan. 27 in Federal Court.

Pennsylvania-based Sensaphone makes remote-monitoring equipment.

Minnesota-based Wakefield Pork claims it sent more than 4,000 pigs to Jensen Farms for growing and nursery care, but just slightly more than half survived to be transferred to the finishing barn, where they would be fed and maintained until slaughter.

Most of the others perished on Jensen Farms from suffocation, according to the complaint. Wakefield says 1,750 pigs died when "the ventilation system equipment and/or its component parts and/or the Sensaphone remote monitoring device failed." Jensen Farms was using a Sensaphone remote monitoring device to maintain proper ventilation for the pigs in the growing barn, Wakefield says.

Westfield Insurance says it has paid more than $75,000 for the lost pigs. It seeks recovery from the defendants.

The plaintiffs also seek damages for negligence, breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranties and bailment/conversion.

"Defendant Jensen failed in its duty ... to safely keep the pigs and redeliver them upon demand by plaintiff Wakefield and thereby converted the pigs to Jensen's own use," the complaint states.

"Jensen is absolutely liable to plaintiffs for the loss of the pigs."

The plaintiffs are represented by Steven Theesfeld with Yost & Baill, of Minneapolis.

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