Judge Slashes $50 Million Damage Award Against Hog Farm

(CN) — A federal judge on Monday  dramatically cut $50 million jury award to neighbors of an industrial hog operation for intense the smells, noise and other disturbances they’ve endured.

In the underlying lawsuit, 10 residents who live near Kinlaw Farms’ concentrated animal feeding operation in Bladen County, North Carolina, claim they’d suffered for years from the  “obnoxious recurrent odors” and other nuisances caused by the 4,688 hogs kept on the property.

On April 26, a jury awarded each of the plaintiffs $75,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages from the farm’s parent company, Smithfield Farms.

But on Monday, U.S. District Judge W. Earl said North Carolina law required him to cut the size of punitive damages to $2.5 million total for the plaintiffs.

Britt said state law limits the punishment for corporate misdeeds to no more than $250,000 per person.

That’s an amount 1/20th the $5 million that jurors ordered the defendant to pay each neighbor as punishment.

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