Dairy Farmers May Sue Over Diseased Cattle

     WAUSAU, Wis. (CN) – Farmers who bought 50 dairy cows – some of which had a contagious, fatal disease that allegedly destroyed their farm – may pursue nine of their 17 claims against the seller, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled.




     Michael and Marcia Wilson bought the cattle in August 2001 from Robert Tuxen. Less than a year later, two of the animals tested positive for Johne’s disease, an infectious disease typically contracted in the first six months of a cow’s life. Because it’s a highly contagious disease, cows that show symptoms, such as weight loss and reduced milk production, are usually slaughtered.
     When the disease spread and allegedly decimated the dairy farmers’ livelihood, they sued Tuxen for misrepresentation, breach of contract and negligence, among other claims.
     The appeals court largely reinstated their claims, including six tort claims and three statutory claims, which had been dismissed as barred by the economic loss doctrine.
     Judges concluded that the diseased cows qualified as “other property” exempt from the doctrine.

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