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Nixon vetoes bill restricting farm suits

Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that would have made litigation against hog farms more difficult.

Nixon on Monday evening vetoed House Bill 209, which would have restricted the potential damages in actions for private nuisance involving farming, agriculture or animal production. But he signaled that he was open to signing similar legislation if lawmakers made some changes.

“My office has communicated with the House sponsor, and we are working with legislative leaders to clarify and improve the language of the bill in the time remaining in this legislative session,” Nixon said in a press release.

In a letter to the Legislature explaining his action, Nixon said the bill was “flawed” because some of its language could be applied to any kind of nuisance suits, not just those related to crop or animal production.

Nixon also criticized the bill’s bar on punitive damages.

The bill came after a series of jury verdicts in Jackson County Circuit Court against large hog farms in northern Missouri. Last year, several families living near one such operation won $11 million at trial. A similar case in 2006 yielded $4.5 million.