RALEIGH (AP) — A federal judge is slashing $50 million in damages that a jury awarded neighbors of an industrial hog operation to punish a pork producer for intense smells, noise and other disturbances.
U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt ruled this week that North Carolina law required him to cut the size of punitive damages to $2.5 million total for the 10 plaintiffs.
Britt cited state law that limits the punishment for corporate misdeeds to no more than $250,000 per person. That’s an amount 1/20th the $5 million that jurors ordered Smithfield Foods to pay each neighbor as punishment.
Neighbors of a 15,000-head Bladen County swine operation also were awarded $75,000 each in compensation for conditions that prevented them from enjoying their rural homes.