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They are going to lose them all....

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Ray Brown View Drop Down
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    Posted: 07 August 2018 at 3:01pm
that is what I said last Thursday after reading the closing arguments in the hog farm lawsuit in Raleigh.

Do I think it is all about money when it comes to the plantifs's and the attorney?  Absolutely.

Do I think the award given by the jury was way over the top?  Absolutely.

Do I think the next case will get the same results?  Absolutely.

When you live in Wayne County and a lot of friends and aquaintences are hog farmers or are sons and daughters of hog farmers you tend to watch what you say.  So I have waited on this for some time before I chose to write this, but I'm doing so because it so closely correlates fishery management in NC.

Smithfield Foods is going to lose every one of these lawsuits.  And when all these lawsuits that were filed before the change in the law are tried, there will be more lawsuits under the new rules and more than likely Smithfield will lose every one of those too.  Why?

Because in every case the attorney for the plaintiffs points out one thing, over and over.  Is Smithfield and their famers using the best technology to lower the odor and potential pollution of air and water that they know about?  The answer is "no".   Is Smithfield using the best technology and process that they use in other states also in NC to control air and water pollution?  The answer is 'no' and Smithfield admits it; they have to.

So when a juror is asked if their neighbor knows better and doesn't apply what they know then aren't they allowing the issue that could be objectionable to a neighbor truly become a nuisance because they could control it better and chose not to?   My wager is that every juror will agree with that and so far 36 jurors on three juries have accepted that as logical and each jury has taken less and less time to come to that conclusion from the one before them.   So as the attorney gets more feed back from each jury as to why they went with them then the summation will get more focused and the wins will stack up and be even easier than this one.

You can blame greedy attorney's, judges, and jurors, but the truth is a better way is known and utilized by Smithfield in other places and as long as they don't use the best they know about in NC then NC citizens will vote against them time after time.   The small guy will get hurt because the big guys refused to change.

Then you have the NC legislature that not only wrote the thresholds of the law for pork production they have been active over the last couple of years in lowering the standards in NC which ironically makes these lawsuits even easier to win.   To protect Smithfield's profits by not making them use the best technology they have, our legislature has made the small farmer even more vulnerable to these type lawsuits and for some reason the farmer thinks they are being protected when in fact they are being put in jeopardy with each lowering of the legal standard.   Politics doesn't care about the small guy if the donor is happy.  Rallies are nice, but reality is deadly.

Go to Iowa, where 4 times more pork is raised than in NC and look at what Smithfield is made to use there and the results of using that technology.  Read the summary of hog operation concerns done by an Iowa university and you will see that using the best technology adds about 10 cents per pound to the operational cost of every hog that goes through the house and lawsuits like this have not been winnable there, because in Iowa the neighbor is using the best known technology out there and the state of Iowa mandates its use.

A far cry from 20 year old standards and not having to do the best you know you can be as are the rules NC.   In Iowa you do the best you know how to be to protect air and water and to be the best neighbor you can be.  In NC we look for ways to make sure those that set pork production rules set the rules to favor the producer and not the folks who live around them.

And that is exactly what the lawyer involved is pointing out and it is why jurors are quickly favoring the plaintiff, and they will until NC uses what they know to be the best system.

So why type this here?

Because I would give anything to get fishery reform before a judge and jury in NC away from the prejudices of certain areas and use the same type of argument in front of juries who only know what is possible and what is happening and what NC allows as compared to other states and what NC citizens give up as fishery managers lower standards of viability so that a few can continue to remain profitable.

Most people don't want to take away the livelihood of anyone, but if it is shown that business can basically continue as is in terms of volume with changes that make it more compatible with both the environment and populations around it then an objective juror will ask for the change or in the case of the hog farms demand the change with their verdicts time after time.

Think of all the data that you have seen on several issues from Rick, most of which has been vetted and agreed to by various people with marine science background.  Think of all the data you've read about by catch from shrimp trawls in shrimp nurseries and known but non recognized fish nurseries and all the data that is available from other states on why they did away with trawling in nursery areas and stopping the use of monofilament entanglement nets and their never going back to them when they were finally removed.

Think of the expression on a jurors face when he hears the creel limits on red drum, flounder, and speckled trout for the average citizen in other states compared to NC and then told that the only reason that such disparity exists is because other states manage inside waters for their average citizens and not industry.

Yes, that Texas attorney has proven in a NC court system that juries do not tolerate being poor stewards of the air and water if other ways are available and known.   All that attorney did was find a few plaintiffs so that the exposure within the legal system could be shown.

Until a juror is told that NC hog farmers are using the best and most advanced technology known the attorney will keep winning no matter what legislators do to try and help by lowering standards.  Heck, playing that game could wipe out the industry rather than raising the level of standards making the industry all but impossible to criticize let alone sue.

Yep.....fishery reform advocates could learn a lot from these trials.

The question is, who will be the plaintiffs and who will play Smithfield when it plays out in court?

And as this unfolds, my guess is a trial to make the fishing industry more responsible in NC waters is not far behind. 







Edited by Ray Brown - 07 August 2018 at 3:09pm
Shrimp trawling never stops in Pamlico Sound. It just pauses on the weekend so crabs can remove the dead and dying from the battlefield.
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TomM View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 August 2018 at 3:06pm
So true
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hghcpa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hghcpa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 August 2018 at 3:25pm
One thing for certain IMO, the only way fisheries management will be changed in NC is through the courts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote themoose Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 August 2018 at 3:28pm
"The question is, who will be the plaintiffs and who will play Smithfield when it plays out in court?"

Both very interesting questions.

To be a successful plaintiff, you need a basis to sue. You have to be able to prove harm. A recreational fisherman catching fewer fish than in years past may not pass that test. Perhaps a pier that once flourished during spot runs would pass the test? Charter fishermen who see their incomes reduced because of lower rec limits? A relatively clear cause and effect would be needed.

(I am NOT a lawyer... I didn't play one on TV.... And I didn't even stay at a holiday inn express last night... Just a guy with some common sense)

The second question though... Trawlers? Fish Houses? NCDMF? NCFA? Interesting, very interesting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote todobien Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 August 2018 at 3:39pm
And think of Cooke as the Murphy of 2017 busy pumping out money to get the laws changed so they can farm however they want to farm.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mattrich21 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 August 2018 at 4:06pm
Ray, that's the most logical thing I've read about these issues in a while.  

The most successful corporations are the ones that care:  about their business, their employees, their customers, their communities.  

That's hard to do from Luohe, China (Smithfield) or New Brunswick, Canada (Cooke).  






Edited by mattrich21 - 07 August 2018 at 4:09pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bakesta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 August 2018 at 5:51pm
You are 100% right about the hogs Ray.

But your fishery reform lawsuit is just a dream.  There's no reason to get anyone's hopes up or even suggest it is possible. You must realize that there will NEVER be a lawsuit for fishery reform in NC.  There's no money in it to be won (no damages to attract lawyers)  and nobody with money is willing to file one.  

The lawsuit is a non-issue.  Only the commercial side files lawsuits.   The turtle lady and her suit were a one hit wonder that had potential but fizzled under the regulators who were supposed to help.  At this point, it is making no difference in turtle survival in NC.  They are drowning just as fast as they were before her suit.  The state of NC officially does not care about sea turtles. 


I'm glad the hog suits are working.  I hope the growers clean up and thrive while charging 10 cents more a pound.Pig


But I feel safe in saying that fishery reform lawsuits in NC and unicorn sightings have an equal probability of occurrence. 




 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Glacierbaze Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 August 2018 at 11:11am
No one is forcing Smithfield to use the lowest standards allowed by the Legislature, nor preventing them from using the best science and technology available. It's a conscious decision they made to save a few pennies a pound in NC, in the hope that their lobbyists could protect them in the long run. Now they are giving it back, and the appeals court is still on their side, knocking jury awards down to a tiny fraction.

The best comparison between pork and fish is that both are high volume, environmentally destructive industries, that depend on political pay-offs for their existence, while concentrating profits into the hands of a few people who control them.
"You can never elevate your own character by stepping on someone else's."

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