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North Carolina couple wins suit against Smithfield Foods

There are upsides and downsides to living in rural, agricultural areas. Some people enjoy being able to own acres of land and the privacy that such ownership entails. They also may enjoy being removed from the hustle and bustle of a large city. However, those who live in rural, agricultural areas may find that their neighbors are farmers. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, if the farmer's practices negatively affect those who live near them, it could lead to a lawsuit.

According to a news report, a North Carolina couple was awarded over $25 million following a nuisance lawsuit against the major hog farming operation, Smithfield Foods. In the lawsuit, the couple claimed they were subjected to swarms of flies, noisy trucks and bad smells emanating from the hog farm operation near their home. The lawsuit focused on "anaerobic lagoons" in which waste is kept behind the hogs' enclosures and is then liquified and spread onto fields in the area.

It is worth noting that the jury's verdict came during a week in which the state adopted a new law that imposed restrictions on when and how neighbors could bring nuisance lawsuits against farmers. Therefore, it remains to be seen how similar lawsuits in North Carolina will be handled in the future.

Nuisance lawsuits are a type of general civil litigation that may be brought against a business or neighbor. Private nuisance lawsuits are premised on allegations that the plaintiff has been unable to use or enjoy their property, even though a physical invasion from the nuisance has not occurred. A public nuisance is one that has a negative impact on the general public's comfort, welfare, safety or health.

These types of lawsuits could lead to limitations on how the defendant can use their land, in addition to a monetary award for damages. Therefore, if a person is seeking to file a nuisance lawsuit, or whether they have been served with a nuisance lawsuit, they will want to make sure they understand how the law will apply to their specific circumstances.

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