July 12, 2018
On June 27 Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the North Carolina Farm Act of 2018 was overridden by the North Carolina General Assembly. Restricting nuisance lawsuits, the updated Farm Act requires action be filed within one year of the establishment of the agriculture or forestry operation or within one year of the operation undergoing a fundamental change.
The legislation is in response to a recent federal trial court verdict that awarded $50 million in damages to neighbors of a hog operation. Per the updated law, the court verdict “… contradicts the intent of the General assembly and effectively renders the [previous Farm Act] toothless in offering meaningful protection of long-established North Carolina farms and forestry operations.”
In another trial similar to the first but for a different site, a jury awarded $25 million in damages to neighbors of a 4,780-head swine operation in June. North Carolina caps punitive damages at $250,000 or three times actual damages, whichever is higher. In this case, $250,000 is the higher amount. State law prevents juries from knowing in advance that damages are capped and later adjusted by the judge.
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