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The week’s top stories on Policy Watch

1. Jury awards plaintiffs more than $50 million in historic hog nuisance lawsuit

A jury deliberated for less than two days before awarding 10 plaintiffs $50 million in a hog nuisance lawsuit against Murphy-Brown/Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer.

According to the verdict sheet, the jury unanimously agreed that Murphy-Brown, which owns the hogs at Kinlaw Farms in Bladen County, “substantially and unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of their property.” The jury awarded each of the plaintiffs $75,000 on those grounds.

But the jury also had the latitude to award punitive damages. They did so: $5 million for each plaintiff. In sum, the plaintiffs, ranging in age from their teens to 85, were awarded a total of $50.7 million. [Read more…]

Bonus read:

2. Proposed loosening of coal ash rules draws overwhelming opposition at EPA hearing | Read more

3. School takeover group’s payment to ex-lawmaker raises ethics questions | Read more

4. Policy Watch exclusive: Double-bunked judges speak out on judicial redistricting plans | Read more

Bonus reads:
Meet the judges behind our story about judicial redistricting
A familiar face in DC: rising SCSJ voting rights attorney argues first case at SCOTUS

5. Time for General Assembly official to stop playing games with public records | Read more

6. National pretrial expert: Reform is coming to the broken cash bail system | Read more

*** Upcoming Crucial Conversation on Friday, May 4th: A new day in the fight against gun violence | Learn more and register today

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