Arkansas Supreme Court Rules Poultry Producers Can Be Sued

A decision handed down by the Supreme Court of Arkansas on May 8 means that poultry producers will be able to go to trial in a product liability suit brought by residents of the Prairie Grove, Arkansas area claiming that chicken litter has caused cancer.

The higher court’s decision reversed the decision of fourth Circuit Judge Kim Smith to grant a pretrial motion eliminating poultry producers as defendants before a September 2006 trial in which feed-additive maker Alpharma prevailed.

The trial’s plaintiffs were Michael and Mary Beth Green and their son Blu, who suffered from leukemia as a child. According to the suit, he has since recovered, but still suffers side effects.

The Greens’ suit was the first of many in the case, in which plaintiffs allege that the chicken feed additive ingredient roxarsone, which contains arsenic, polluted the air around Prairie Grove via its presence in litter spread as fertilizers in fields nearby. According to the plaintiffs, it infiltrated homes, schools, and places of business, resulting in Green’s leukemia, among other personal injuries.

The Greens sought damages of $900,000 alleging product liability, failure to warn, and negligence.

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