A trial-court judge has ruled in favor of one of the nation’s largest pork producers in nuisance lawsuits filed by the neighbors of four Randolph County, Ind., hog farms.
According to The Star Press, the lawsuits were filed against Buena Vista Sow Farm; Unionport Nursery Farm; Stone Road Farms; and Gary Foulke’s farm. The farms are operated by North Carolina-based Maxwell Foods, aka Maxwell Farms.
The lawsuits were seeking damages from the farms for “creating a nuisance with regards to odor, manure management practices, and location of farms.”
But Special Judge Marianne Vorhees, of Delaware Circuit Court 1, ruled the Indiana Right to Farm Act constitutional. In each of the cases, Vorhees found the plaintiffs failed to prove negligence in the ways the farms were operated and located.
“Plaintiffs’ nuisance action can proceed only if they produce evidence that defendants were negligent, and defendants’ negligence was the cause of the odors,” Vorhees ruled. “Plaintiffs admitted they have no such evidence.”
The Associated Press reports in an article here Indiana’s right to farm law protects the rights of farmers to use “generally accepted” practices, including “the use of ever-changing technology.”
Vorhees ruled the law covered Maxwell Farms since the hog farms named in the lawsuit had been used continuously as farms since at least the 1950s. And according to Vorhees, a switch from crop production to hog production “does not constitute a significant change.”
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