Oklahoma's new governor, AG will review chicken waste lawsuit

Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 8, 2010, 1:11pm


OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) - Oklahoma's governor-elect and attorney general-elect reportedly plan to review a pending lawsuit filed against several Arkansas poultry companies.

In 2005, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson sued a total of 13 companies, most notably Tyson Foods. Edmondson, who did not seek re-election this year, alleged that chicken waste from the companies' facilities polluted a million-acre area along the Illinois River.

Testimony in the case wrapped up earlier this year, but the judge has yet to rule.

Mary Fallin's spokesman, Alex Weintz, told The Associated Press on Monday the federal lawsuit is one of many legal matters the incoming governor will look at when she takes office.

Weintz told the AP Fallin hadn't yet made a decision regarding the
case's merits.

Oklahoma's attorney general-elect, Republican Scott Pruitt, also plans to review the poultry case, according to the AP.

Pruitt, who defeated Democrat Jim Priest in last Tuesday's election, was often criticized by his opponent during the election for accepting campaign donations from employees of some of the companies named in the suit.

Edmondson did not seek re-election as attorney general so he could challenge Lt. Gov. Jari Askins for the Democratic nomination for governor. He lost by less than 1 percent to Askins.

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 Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@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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