End in Sight for Oklahoma Poultry Case

US - The case against poultry companies in the 'Illinois River pollution case' is wrapping up.
calendar icon 19 February 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Closing arguments were heard on 18 February in Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson's lawsuit against large-scale poultry producers, reports Legal News Line.

Filed in 2005, the federal lawsuit against 13 poultry companies in Oklahoma and Arkansas alleges the companies polluted the Illinois River Watershed by allowing bird waste from their facilities to flow into the one million-acre watershed.

Attorney General Edmondson was quoted by KOTV as saying: "The record had to be made, and we put the evidence in, the experts, and the testimony necessary to establish that there had been violations of both federal and state law, and that they've adversely impacted the river – and we need the help of the courts to correct it."

For their part, defendants in the case have argued that they are not responsible for water pollution in the watershed. But rather a dozen wastewater treatment plants in the watershed are to blame.

In a statement, the defendants said they 'feel good' about how the trial went.

The statement continued: 'We feel good about how the case progressed and believe the evidence confirms that poultry farmers are abiding by all laws that regulate the use of litter as a fertilizer. We also believe the evidence confirms that poultry litter used in accordance with these laws is not harming the Illinois River or Lake Tenkiller.'

Defendants in the lawsuit are: Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production LLC., George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms, Simmons Foods Inc., Cal-Maine Farms Inc. and Willow Brook Foods Inc.

Edmondson has said regardless of how the case is settled, it will be appealed to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The case is State of Oklahoma v. Tyson Foods Inc., No. 4:05-cv-00329. The state is represented by outside contingency counsel: Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis, Tulsa-based Miller Keffer & Bullock and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina-based Motley Rice. The firms collectively stand to get 33.3 per cent to 50 per cent of the monetary damages awarded to the state.

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