A couple who lives near Stockton Lake has been awarded $1.1 million in a lawsuit settlement because of the stench from a nearby factory hog farm. Ed and Ruth McEowen filed the nuisance lawsuit against the hog operators after barns were erected less than 1,000 feet from their home several years ago."Night was always the worst," Ed McEowen said. "It’s like the monsters come out at night. The sickening stench just lays down here in the valley once the sun goes down. You could never invite anybody over because you never knew how bad the stench was going to be."
The lawsuit, which was finalized last week in Cedar County Circuit Court, was filed against Doug Mullings, who owns the barns; the Missouri Farmers Association, which supplied the hogs; North View Swine Co.; Tri-County Swine; and an insurer, the Missouri Farm Bureau.
Mullings, who does not live at the farm with 7,500 hogs that is across the road from the McEowens, did not return phone calls Sunday.
The lawsuit said Mullings built one of six barns without a construction permit, a violation of Missouri Department of Natural Resources regulations. The farm operated six years without an operating permit from DNR.
Hog waste also fouled a creek that runs through the McEowens’ property, the lawsuit said. The McEowens have lived on their 40-acre farm for 30 years and built the house and a workshop by hand, McEowen said.
The settlement involves only odors up to the date of the settlement. But the McEowens said they were ready to file another nuisance action if the hog operation continued to harm their quality of life.
The McEowens have a team of lawyers, including former Hickory county prosecutor Mike Holzknecht and Charlie Speer, a Kansas City attorney.
Speer said he has about 350 cases involving large factory farms and odors around the state. A 2006 case in Jackson County resulted in an award of $4.5 million.
"I’m sending them a message," Speer said. "Most of our clients have been living in their homes for generations. The big hog companies try to say it’s people from the city moving out (to the country) that don’t get ag odors. It is anything but that." The Kansas City Star
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