Federal Court Orders Toxic Pollution Case Against Huge California Factory Egg Farm to Proceed to Trial

A federal court in Sacramento has cleared the way for a lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of the United States along with several Lathrop, Calif., residents charging Olivera Egg Ranch, one of California’s largest egg factory farms, for its releases of high levels of the toxic gas ammonia into the community.

Ruling from the bench, Judge John A. Mendez rejected Olivera’s motion for summary judgment and motions to dismiss, and ordered the case, which The HSUS and residents filed in 2008, to proceed to trial.

Jonathan R. Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, stated, “This facility has flouted federal and state pollution laws for years, and The Humane Society of the United States intends to see some semblance of justice done for the local residents, environment, and animals who have all suffered at the hands of this factory farm.”

The giant factory farm regularly confines more than 700,000 hens in cramped cages and dumps 133,000 pounds of manure every day into lake-sized cesspools that release large amounts of ammonia and other noxious gases. The suit alleges that Olivera’s failure to report its daily pollution violates two federal environmental laws, and the horrible odors and severe discomfort it causes constitute a nuisance under California state law.

The court previously ordered Olivera to pay $143,057 in sanctions for destroying evidence related to air pollution on its property in 2009.

The case against Olivera will now proceed to trial. The plaintiffs in the case are represented pro bono by Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe and attorneys with The HSUS’ animal protection litigation section.

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