Poultry companies object to AG settlement

Chris Rizo Jun. 4, 2009, 11:17am

Drew Edmondson (D)

TULSA, Okla. (Legal Newsline) - A group of poultry companies being sued by the Oklahoma attorney general are objecting to a proposed settlement that would remove one company from the lawsuit over water contamination.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a Democrat, alleges that 13 large-scale poultry companies polluted the Illinois River Watershed by allowing bird waste from their facilities to flow into the 1 million-acre watershed.

Papers filed in federal court in Tulsa indicate that 12 of the companies say they object to the consent decree Edmondson reached last month with Willow Brook Foods Inc.

The Springfield, Mo.-based company has agreed to settle its part of the 2005 lawsuit for $120,000.

Willow Brook changed its name to Cold Zone Inc. last year. It is no longer in the poultry business. The company owned had 16 of the 1,800 poultry houses estimated to be in the Illinois River Watershed.

Other 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. and Cal-Maine Farms Inc.

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 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 staff 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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