Judge Britt Reduces Murphy-Brown’s Punitive Damages to $3.25 Million | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Monday, May 7, 2018

Judge Britt Reduces Murphy-Brown’s Punitive Damages to $3.25 Million

Posted by on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 3:29 PM

The punitive damages for the ten plaintiffs who recently won their case against pork giant Murphy-Brown have been reduced from $50 million to $3.25 million, according to a decision filed today by U.S. District Court Judge Earl Britt. The decision means that each plaintiff involved in the litigation will now receive $325,0000, a small fraction of the original $5.075 million judgment handed down to each plaintiff by the jury several weeks ago.

Britt's decision to impose a cap on punitive damages came after a jury handed down a landmark verdict to the ten plaintiffs suing Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. The case was one of twenty-six federal lawsuits filed against the company over the stenches produced by the waste-management practices of commercial hog farms. It focused on a hog operation in Bladen County that contracts with Murphy-Brown to raise its pigs. After nearly a month-long trial, the jurors awarded each of the ten plaintiffs $75,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

However, as the INDY explained last week, attorneys for Murphy-Brown argued that state law limits the amount of punitive damages the plaintiffs could receive and appealed the amount on the basis of a 1995 law that caps punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $250,000.

Although the N.C. Supreme Court upheld the law in 2004, attorneys representing the plaintiffs argued that the punitive damages cap as applied in this case was unconstitutional (you can read more about their legal argument here).

The law capping punitive damages was introduced in 1994 by Republican state representative Charles Neely and was pushed by the N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry, a coalition of the state's largest companies. As a lobbyist explained at the time, the bill was aimed at preventing "frivolous lawsuits that are intended to frighten businesses" into settling.


Tags: , , ,

Pin It

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

RE; "Perhaps its a good thing that, unlike Puerto Rico, we have electoral votes."
-----You NAILED that one, spot-on.

by Mike PALADIN on President Trump Visited North Carolina This Morning to Console Us, Check on His Golf Course (News)

Your headline is misleading... there is nothing in this story about him actually visiting his golf course and checking on …

by rlstrnad on President Trump Visited North Carolina This Morning to Console Us, Check on His Golf Course (News)

Most Recent Comments

RE; "Perhaps its a good thing that, unlike Puerto Rico, we have electoral votes."
-----You NAILED that one, spot-on.

by Mike PALADIN on President Trump Visited North Carolina This Morning to Console Us, Check on His Golf Course (News)

Your headline is misleading... there is nothing in this story about him actually visiting his golf course and checking on …

by rlstrnad on President Trump Visited North Carolina This Morning to Console Us, Check on His Golf Course (News)

N&O reports he said "I can't tell you why, but I love that area." Which is it? I need to …

by terryboo on President Trump Visited North Carolina This Morning to Console Us, Check on His Golf Course (News)

You need to correct it. Duke Energys CEO is Lynn Good. …

by Chad Jones on President Trump Visited North Carolina This Morning to Console Us, Check on His Golf Course (News)

Also worth noting that Thom Tillis and David Rouzer were both present at the recent "National Agriculture Leaders Roundtable" at …

by CB77 on President Trump Visited North Carolina This Morning to Console Us, Check on His Golf Course (News)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation