RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 711 on June 25, that would have limited the abilities of neighbors near hog farms to sue the agricultural businesses with nuisance claims.
The bill was first ratified by the state senate on June 15. According to the Charlotte Observer, opponents of the bill rallied at the state capitol on Monday.
“While agriculture is vital to North Carolina’s economy, so property rights are vital to people’s homes and other businesses,” Cooper said in a statement. “North Carolina’s nuisance laws can help allow generations of families to enjoy their homes and land without fear for their health and safety.”
Legislators are looking into another vote to override the governor.
The legislation stems from a nuisance suit in April when plaintiffs living near a North Carolina contract farm where hogs are being raised for Smithfield Foods subsidiary, Murphy-Brown LLC, were awarded $750,000 in compensation in addition to more than $50 million in punitive damages by a federal jury.
The case was brought by 10 neighbors of Kinlaw Farm, a 15,000-head production facility in Dublin, North Carolina. It is the first of dozens of nuisance lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown by more than 500 neighbors.
In May, the judge reduced the damages to total award of $3,250,000. Senior US District Judge W. Earl Britt granted a motion filed by Murphy-Brown attorneys to impose North Carolina’s statutory cap on punitive damages. Under the state’s law, punitive damages shall not exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is greater.