SW Legal studies in Business

Clear Evidence Needed to Establish Link Between Pollution and Horse Death
Description

Appeals court held that while improper manure storage had resulted in water contamination in a creek, that fact was insufficient to impose liability for the death of horses downstream that may have consumed contaminated water. Clear evidence of contamination that would cause death would be needed.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Nuisance; Water Pollution; Horse Death

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

The Pardues have operated a horse farm for many years. Adjacent property owners later began a commercial turkey growing operation. Turkey manure is piled up and hauled every year or two. The state of Indiana cited the turkey operation for improper handling and storage of turkey manure, some of which entered a creek that went through the Pardues’ horse property. The turkey operation changed its manure holding method to comply with state law. The Pardues suspected that the death of some horses may be due to water contamination from the turkey operation. An expert confirmed that water contamination could be the cause of death. The Pardues sued the turkey operation for nuisance for allowing contamination of the creek. The trial court rejected their claim; they appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. The Pardues could not establish a nuisance unless there was clear evidence that the death of the horses was caused by turkey manure in the creek. Suspicion that there was a problem was not sufficient. While an expert suspected the manure could have caused the horse deaths, the evidence was not clear enough to establish liability.

Citation Pardue v. Perdue Farms, Inc., 925 N.E.2d 482 (Ct. App., Ind., 2010)

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