Premium Standard, plaintiffs reach settlement
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Premium Standard Farms and attorneys for nearly 300 Missourians who sued the company because of hog odors announced a confidential, joint settlement Thursday, resolving legal cases that in some instances have been pending for more than a decade.
Princeton-based Premium Standard has been the focus of lawsuits filed by hundreds of residents across the northern part of the state who claimed their quality of life was harmed by odors wafting off the mega-confinements.
Those nuisance lawsuits have resulted in multimillion-dollar awards against Premium Standard. In 2010, for example, a group of 15 northwest Missouri residents were awarded a total of $11 million, leading Premium Standard officials to warn that continued lawsuits could push the company out of the state.
The company said it has spent tens of millions of dollars to develop new technology to handle the odors from hundreds of thousands of hogs at its confinements. Attorneys for most of the 287 plaintiffs with pending lawsuits against the company said in the statement the deal was possible because of Premium Standard's implementation of odor control systems in many of the company farms, including barn scrapers.
"The settlement announced today represents the culmination of a long battle," said Stephen A. Weiss, a co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "After four grueling trials over the past six years alone, we were prepared to litigate each claim, but this agreement hammered out between the parties is a fair and just resolution of what not long ago seemed to be in irresolvable dispute."
Details of the settlement were not revealed. Attorneys for the company and plaintiffs declined to discuss the deal because terms were confidential.
In the statement, Premium Standard attorney Jean Paul Bradshaw said the deal will allow the company to "focus its entire efforts on what it does best; providing families with wholesome, nutritious food and creating jobs in northern Missouri."
Premium Standard, owned by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, employs some 1,100 people in the northern part of the state.