Punitive Damages Law Caps Hog Lawsuit

May 11, 2018

A hog waste lagoon in Beaufort County, NC.
Credit DefMo / Flickr Creative Commons

Two weeks ago, 10 Bladen county residents were awarded $5 million each in punitive damages after winning a hog nuisance lawsuit against Murphy-Brown/Smithfield Foods. This week U.S. District Judge Earl Britt severely cut the award. Instead of the millions they were expecting, the plaintiffs will each get only $250,000.

Michelle Nowlin is a clinical professor of law at Duke University and supervising attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. She joins host Frank Stasio to talk about a 1995 law that caps punitive damages. She also explains why exemptions provided to hog farmers make regulation difficult and winning a claim against them almost impossible.