Court Stays Civitas Institute's Francis De Luca Appeal of Smithfield Agreement Lawsuit | News
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Court Stays Civitas Institute's Francis De Luca Appeal of Smithfield Agreement Lawsuit

Posted by on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Earlier this week, the Court of Appeals stayed a Wake County judge's ruling last month that dismissed a lawsuit filed last year by Francis De Luca, the president of the conservative Civitas Institute.

The lawsuit, filed in October 2016, claimed that then-attorney general Roy Cooper had diverted money from public schools to environmental projects in conflict with state law. The money at the center of the lawsuit was the result of a 2000 settlement known as the Smithfield Agreement, in which former attorney general Mike Easley made a deal with pork giant Smithfield Foods that required the company to invest tens of millions of dollars into environmentally superior waste management technologies.

The lawsuit asked the court to prevent now-attorney general Josh Stein from distributing the funds and to recover the millions spent over the past three years, arguing that the agreement really amounted to a fine, not an agreement, and as such the proceeds should be put into the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund—and spent on schools—rather than on making improving the hog-waste system.

Last month, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that the plaintiffs, including De Luca, have “failed to meet their burden of establishing their own entitlement to judgment or to forecast the existence of facts that support their claim or that rises to the level of creating a genuine issue of fact.”

The recent order from the appeals court temporarily stayed Ridgeway's decision.

"The temporary stay will last until the court rules on the motion that would install a stay on the Superior Court decision until the end of the appeal," North Carolina Capitol Connection reports. "The temporary motion expires when the defendants and the interveners file a response to the petition, or the time period to respond expires.”

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