Oklahoma Moves to Limit “Nuisance” Lawsuits

Oklahoma lawmakers, with an eye to the east, have introduced legislation that would limit the punitive damages levied against farms deemed to be a nuisance to neighbors. The measure also extends the protection to other farming operations that are subject to similar legal action.

The Tulsa World reports the bill, introduced by Rep. Mark McBride and Sen. Julie Daniels, would cap so-called “pain and suffering” damages to $250,000 or three times the amount awarded for compensatory damages, or whichever amount is greater.

The sponsors say the bill is a direct response to the 26 lawsuits filed by neighbors of North Carolina pig farms operated by Smithfield Foods claiming smells, noises, and other nuisances have ruined their way of life. Thus far, juries in four of the five litigated trials have found the pork giant liable for both compensatory and punitive damages in the hundreds of millions, but North Carolina law limits punitive damages.