Monday, November 2, 2020

Smithfield suing insurance company over claim for manure odours

Smithfield Foods has been denied coverage for lawsuits filed by neighbours over odours from hog-farming manure lagoons and manure spreading on fields. 

Now it is in court over those insurance claims.

Old Republic Insurance Co. of Pennsylvania is arguing that the company knew manure odours were a problem and it was responsible to deal with it.

This insurance case relates to the first of 26 lawsuits brought against Smithfield. Juries in five of those cases have awarded neighbours $550 million in compensation and punitive damages.

In its filing, Old Republic argues that the current stack of litigation, as well as several prior similar lawsuits against Smithfield, show that the company has known of the consequences of its lagoon-and-spray field methods, but intentionally has continued to use them anyway. 

Old Republic said the policies it provided to Smithfield account for such claims as “bodily harm,” “personal harm” and “property damage.” However, the plaintiffs in this case aren’t making those claims, and even if they were, the policies exclude coverage for those damages that are “expected” or “intended,” as the insurer argues they are.