In re: NC Swine Farm Nuisance Litigation
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 179 Motion to Compel and granting in part and denying in part 203 Motion for Protective Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr on 10/19/2016. (Marsh, K)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
Case No.: 5:15-CV-00013-BR
IN RE: NC SWINE FARM
THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO:
Anderson v. Murphy-Brown LLC, No. 7:14-cv-00183-BR
Artis v. Murphy-Brown LLC, No. 7:14-cv-00237-BR
Gillis v. Murphy-Brown LLC, No. 7:14-cv-00185-BR
McGowan v. Murphy-Brown LLC, No. 7:14-cv-00182-BR
McKiver v. Murphy-Brown LLC, No. 7:14-cv-00180-BR
ORDER RE: SITE INSPECTIONS
This matter comes before the court on Plaintiffs' motion to compel site inspections. [DE179]. Plaintiffs seek to inspect one site that is directly owned by Defendant (Sholar) and eight
that are owned by nonparty growers (the "Growers") (Kinlaw, Greenwood 1, Greenwood 2, Paul
Stanley 7, Willow Creek, Crooked Run, M&D Sow, and Joey Carter). The Growers affected by
the relevant subpoenas have filed a cross-motion for a protective order limiting the scope of the
Defendant has filed a response objecting to aspects of the site
inspections [DE-201], and Plaintiffs have filed a response objecting to aspects of the Growers'
motion [DE-208]. The court conducted a telephonic hearing on the motions on October 18,
2016, at which Plaintiffs, Defendant, and the Growers appeared through counsel. [DE-211].
Rule 34(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to serve a request "to
permit entry onto designated land or other property possessed or controlled by the responding
party, so that the requesting party may inspect, measure, survey, photograph, test, or sample the
property or any designated object or operation on it." Rule 34(c) states that "a nonparty may be
compelled to ... permit an inspection" as provided in Rule 45, which more specifically states
that a party may issue a subpoena to "permit the inspection of premises[.]" Fed. R. Civ. P.
Rule 37(a)(3)(B)(iv) allows a party to move to compel a site inspection.
However, "[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from
annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense . . . . " Fed. R. Civ. P.
26( c)(1 ). Thus, "the degree to which the proposed inspection will aid in the search for truth must
be balanced against the burdens and dangers created by the inspection." Belcher v. Bassett
Furniture Indus., Inc., 588 F.2d 904,908 (4th Cir. 1978) (footnote omitted).
Applying these standards, the court has considered the submissions by Plaintiffs,
Defendant, and the Growers and their arguments at the hearing, and for the reasons specifically
stated at the hearing, Plaintiffs' motion to compel is allowed in part and denied in part, the
Growers' motion is allowed in part and denied in part, with all to bear their own costs, and the
requested site inspections may proceed as follows:
1. Plaintiffs, Defendant, and the Growers shall meet and confer regarding a detailed
inspection protocol (the "Inspection Protocol") to effectuate the court's order.
2. Subject to the limitations herein and the Inspection Protocol, Defendant and the Growers
shall provide Plaintiffs access to the following facilities: Sholar, Kinlaw, Joey Carter,
Greenwood 1 & 2, M&D, Crooked Run, Willow Creek and Paul Stanley.
3. Generally, and as further detailed in this order and the Inspection Protocol, Defendant
and the Growers shall permit Plaintiffs to inspect, measure, photograph, and videotape:
(i) hog sheds, lift stations and pull plug areas, outdoor storage areas, equipment, waste
land application areas, the perimeter, the property line, dead boxes, and fences; (ii)
draining infrastructure, including, but not limited to, streams, catch basins, pipes, gutters,
tile drains, ditches, swales or other water conveyances on or leading from the facilities;
(iii) waste management structures, including lagoons, lift stations, and flush water
conveyances; and (iv) wastewater in lagoons, sprayed or ponding on the property, and in
4. Plaintiffs shall limit inspection inside the hog sheds to two representatives (along with
equal representatives from Defendant and the Grower representatives).
5. In the hog sheds, Plaintiffs may use a camera tQ·take still images, record video and audio,
and take air measurements, swabs (excluding ari"y swabbing of the hogs), waste, and feed
samples. Plaintiffs shall not move or alter items inside the sheds in any manner that
would infringe on normal farm operations.
6. Plaintiffs' inspection of buildings in addition to the hog sheds is limited to lift stations
and pull plug areas.
7. Plaintiffs may take photos, video, measurements, and samples of and from the lagoons.
Plaintiffs may take samples of lagoon wastewater, lagoon shore sludge, lagoon bottom
sludge, and film on the lagoon surface, provided they do not disturb or otherwise harm
the integrity of the lagoon structure, including the lining ofthe lagoon.
8. Plaintiffs shall not inspect or alter equipment that does not relate to hog production and
shall not alter equipment used for hog production.
9. Plaintiffs may fly a drone over each facility. Plaintiffs shall provide in advance
documentation sufficient to reflect that any drone operator is properly licensed and
insured to operate the drone. The drone shall be operated such that representatives of all
parties can see where the drone is from the ground during its flight. All footage shall be
shared. The drone shall remain located over the physical boundaries of the site during its
10. The following sites use flush tanks: Kinlaw, Crooked Run Farm, Greenwood 1,
Greenwood 2, M&D Sow, Sholar and buildings 6 and 7 at Joey Carter. Buildings 1-5 at
Joey Carter use a pit recharge system. Willow Creek and Paul Stanley 7 are inactive. At
the sites that use flush tanks, Plaintiffs may take samples of the water in the flush tanks.
At the pit recharge system at Paul Stanley, Plaintiffs may take samples of the recharge
water if it is readily accessible.
11. Plaintiffs may conduct sampling of standing water, ponding, or water in ditches. With
regard to any land application fields, Plaintiffs are authorized to take photos, video,
samples of surface water, inspect any equipment or devices used for land application,
sample runoff, waterway and drainage structures that transect the confinement, and any
tile drainage system effluents.
12. Plaintiffs may take air samples or measurements. They may bring a portable wind
monitor and measure wind speed or direction. They may bring equipment to obtain air
samples proximate to the tunnel ventilation fans. They may bring portable monitors for
gases in the air and take air samples and measurements.
13. The Willow Creek and Paul Stanley 7 site are vacant. Accordingly, upon sufficient
notice to Defendants and the Growers, Plaintiffs may conduct their site visit to these sites
later on the same day after another site visit because of reduced biosecurity concern.
14. Plaintiffs may take samples of the flies, i.e., seek to catch some, for example around the
lagoons and along the tree lines.
15. Plaintiffs may inspect, including taking photos, video, and swabbing, any dead boxes.
Furthermore, if a dead truck, live truck, or feed truck comes onto the grounds while they
are inspecting, Plaintiffs shall be allowed to photo and videotape the truck and take swabs
from truck surfaces.
16. Defendant or the Grower representatives will notify Plaintiffs no later than one week
before the site visit, as to whether the site is using any microbial additives or other
chemicals, additives or products with the purpose or effect in whole or part of reducing
odor in any aspect of hog operations, as further delineated in the Inspection Protocol. If
any such products are being used, Plaintiffs shall have the right to view and inspect the
products and any equipment used to dispense them and take photos and video at the time
of the visit.
17. No later than seven days before a site inspection, the parties shall identify by name and
position the specific contingent of people who will be going to the facilities in order to
conduct the inspections, pursuant to the Inspection Protocol, providing more detail
consistent with this order. Plaintiffs and Defendants shall each bring no more than eight
people on any visit. Visits shall begin no earlier than 9:00a.m. and end no later than 6:00
p.m. Plaintiffs may stay on the site for no more than 8 hours.
18. One or more Defendant and the Growers' representatives shall be allowed to accompany
Plaintiffs' representatives during the site visit at all times. The parties will work together
reasonably to accommodate such things as bathroom breaks. Plaintiffs' team members
may step off the site property to confer privately, or may do so on the site property so
long as they stay within view of other party representatives. Defendant and the Growers
have the right to photograph or videotape the activities of Plaintiffs' team on the site.
19. Plaintiffs shall not make umeasonable demands on Grower staff during the site
inspections. Plaintiffs may ask for reasonable assistance from Defendant's employees
20. All parties will share all raw unedited photos, videos, audio, or drone footage.
21. Normal operations at each site may continue during the visit. The parties will cooperate
during the site visit to accommodate and not to interfere with normal site operations.
22. Plaintiffs' team members are not authorized to interview any employees or others who
may be on the site. To the extent any communications are needed with site personnel
during the visit for informational or logistical reasons, these shall occur in the presence of
representatives of Defendant and the Grower or with their permission.
23. The parties shall identify mutually agreed to dates and times to conduct the inspections.
If a scheduled site visit has to be cancelled in whole or part due to bad weather, the
parties will cooperate to promptly reschedule the visit.
24. With regard to any sampling, the parties agree to "split" and/or "parallel" sampling.
25. As agreed to by the parties, Plaintiffs shall enter an agreement with the Defendant and the
Growers pursuant to which Plaintiffs agree to indemnify and hold harmless the Defendant
or the Growers, as appropriate, from all loss incurred by Defendant or the Growers as a
result of any action taken in connection with the Plaintiffs' entry on the facility grounds
and any inspections.
26. Plaintiffs will comply with reasonable biosecurity procedures.
procedures shall be provided to Plaintiffs no later than seven days before any scheduled
27. These terms of protection are subject to modification if all counsel consent at the time of
any site inspection.
SO ORDERED, this the __!1_ day of October, 2016.
United States Magistrate Judge
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