Edmondson hopeful poultry companies will settle

Chris Rizo Feb. 4, 2009, 5:18pm

Drew Edmondson (D)

TULSA, Okla. (Legal Newsline)-Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said Wednesday that he is hopeful that 13 poultry companies settle with the state over claims they polluted the Illinois River Watershed.

The Democratic attorney general claims the companies allowed bird waste from their facilities to flow into the 1 million-acre watershed.

"Being somewhat of a cynic in that regard, if it happens, it will happen closer to September than February as we get closer to the actual trial of the case," Edmondson told The Associated Press in an interview. "It's always better to resolve these matters through negotiation, and I will be hopeful that could be done.

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.

"I'm not optimistic. I think both sides are getting ready for trial," the attorney general was quoted by AP as saying.
Edmondson filed suit against the poultry companies, seeking an undisclosed amount for the state.

The lawsuit is being handled primary by the attorney general's office with the assistance of outside counsel, which has borne most of the costs associated with the lawsuit.

In an earlier interview with Legal Newsline, the attorney general said the poultry companies risk going broke if they don't settle before the trial, which is scheduled for next September.

"I would expect that the damage model that we create showing what is actually happened in the watershed will be beyond the reach of the companies," Edmondson said. "It's going to be far more significant than the resources that are available even though it's a multibillion dollar industry."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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Tyson Foods
2200 West Don Tyson Parkway
Springdale, AR 72762

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