Court orders Smithfield unit to pay North Carolinans in hog farm lawsuit

Aug 3 (Reuters) - A federal jury in North Carolina has awarded $473.5 million to six residents near a North Carolina hog farm run by Murphy-Brown LLC, a unit of U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc, after they sued the company over management of the animals.

The jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina awarded $3 million to $5 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages to each of the six people, according to a court filing on Friday.

The company did not respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

The lawsuit had accused Murphy Brown of not taking adequate steps to manage the number of hogs on the farm, leading to odor and the possibility of disease, according to an amended court complaint filed in May.

Murphy Brown is part of Smithfield Foods Pork segment.

The complaint said the hogs caused noise and periodic swarms of flies and pests.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that this was the third lawsuit in a row that the company has lost over noise and odor caused by hog farming.

Smithfield, bought by WH Group Ltd in 2013 for $4.7 billion, is one of the world’s largest pork processors and hog producers.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru