Less than three weeks after attorneys with Humphrey, Farrington & McClain filed a lawsuit against Valley Oaks Steak Co., the company has announced the closing of its cattle-feeding operation in Lone Jack, Missouri.
Valley Oaks Steak Co. ran a confined animal feeding operation ranging at times from 999 to 1,900 cattle in the middle of a densely populated area that straddles the line between Jackson and Johnson County, Missouri. It was planning to expand the CAFO to an annual average of 6,999 head of cattle.
The CAFO has negatively impacted the quality of life for homeowners whose properties are within a few miles of the operation. Homeowners have complained about manure smells, an increase in flies and other disease carrying insects, and increased truck traffic. The smells and insects are so bad that they can no longer go outside or entertain guests.
On July 30, 2019, Humphrey, Farrington & McClain attorneys filed a lawsuit against Valley Oaks in Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of 141 property owners. The suit described the expansion as unreasonable and charged Valley Oaks and its owner David Ward with causing a nuisance and trespassing.
Kenneth B. McClain, senior partner of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, said other homeowners have since contacted the law firm to express interest in joining the lawsuit.
“Valley Oaks’ closing is good news for our clients who will no longer feel like prisoners in their own homes,” McClain said.
McClain noted that Powell Gardens, the 970-acre botanical garden that is also near Valley Oaks, tried to halt the CAFO through the regulatory process. And although it was able to get a preliminary injunction against Valley Oaks’ expansion plans, it took the lawsuit from the 141 property owners to finally convince Valley Oaks to close.
“It is only because of citizens having the right to sue is this result possible,” McClain said. “People should zealously guard their right to protect their persons and property. Fortunately, they have that right under the Missouri Constitution. But we need to remember that corporations are at work trying to keep that kind of thing from occurring.”
The lawsuit states that the nearly 7,000 cattle will produce 300 tons of manure every day, which will then be stored in barns and sheds onsite, until such time as the facility reaches its capacity for manure storage. That plan, according to the lawsuit, falls far short of state manure storage requirements.