Oklahoma poultry case wrapping up

Chris Rizo Feb. 18, 2010, 7:23pm

Drew Edmondson (D)

TULSA, Okla. (Legal Newsline)-Closing arguments were heard Thursday in Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson's lawsuit against large-scale poultry producers.

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 1 million-acre watershed.

"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," Edmondson was quoted by KOTV as saying.

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.

"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," the statement said. "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 U.S. 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, Okla.-based Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis, Tulsa-based Miller Keffer & Bullock and Mt. Pleasant, S.C.-based Motley Rice. The firms collectively stand to get 33.3 percent to 50 percent of the monetary damages awarded to the state.

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

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Organizations in this Story

State of Oklahoma
2300 N Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Tyson Foods
2200 West Don Tyson Parkway
Springdale, AR 72762

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