Smithfield Foods has decided to fight pork production odor lawsuits filed by 275 people against the company. The company had previously considered a multi-million dollar settlement. Smithfield inherited the lawsuits when the company purchased Kansas City-based Premium Standard Farms last year.

The company’s legal options and decision to fight the lawsuits were disclosed after a Smithfield employee inadvertently sent an e-mail to the Kansas City Star. The decision to try each case individually was reached after the company weighed several legal strategies.

In an interview with the Kansas City newspaper, Richard Poulson, a Smithfield executive vice president said, “At this point we’re going to litigate.” However, the Smithfield executive went on to add that the company is not ruling out a possible settlement at a future date.

The memo inadvertently sent to the newspaper estimated a financial risk to Smithfield of $150 million to $200 million in damages due to the lawsuits. Most of the lawsuits stem from residents in northwest Missouri who live near hog farms owned by the company.

Smithfield requested the newspaper to return the internal e-mail inadvertently sent and to destroy any copies but the newspaper declined.

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Source: Kansas City Star