The first in a series of nuisance lawsuits against Murphy-Brown went to court this week in Raleigh. The opening arguments provided an outline of each side’s case. Here’s a recap:
Attorneys for the plaintiffs made an emotional appeal in their opening argument, portraying their clients as sympathetic victims who suffer from unbearable odor created by the nearby hog farm. Attorneys explained how North Carolina hog farming has changed since the 1980s, with a move toward large commercial farms that prevent neighbors from enjoying their property. They placed the blame squarely on Murphy-Brown, saying they control the operations of local growers and are well aware of the nuisances they create.
At times, the rhetoric was over the top. “We can’t bring hog odor into the courtroom. I wish we could. But we’d never get it out. It’s that bad."
The defense took a more reasoned, scientific approach and reminded jurors that this case is about the conditions at a single farm: Kinlaw Farm in Bladen County. It is not about what happened in the ‘80s or ‘90s and is not about hog farms in general. The attorneys emphasized that the Kinlaw Farm has never had any issues — no complaints, no violations, no concerns raised. They stressed that the farmer enjoyed good relationships with his neighbors until out-of-state lawyers showed up.
The attorneys also highlighted the growth that has occurred around the Kinlaw Farm since it began operations, including the construction of a world-class horse farm, a vacation property popular with those who love the outdoors, and several new houses where young families now live. “Actions speak volumes,” the attorney told jurors.