Several Malakoff residents took on the chicken giant Sanderson Farms in 2019, winning more than $6 million in one of the largest civil suits in Henderson County history. However, when the farms failed to clean up their acts, the court ordered them to stop farming activities by Aug. 1, banning them from operating within five miles of the plaintiffs.
In June 2020, when the farms’ activities continued to cause the same issues, District Judge Scott McKee granted a permanent injunction against the defendants, including Huynh Poultry Farms, T&N Poultry farm and Sanderson Farms.
Since the lawsuit, the injunction states the defendants deny a nuisance exists at all, have not reduced their activities, nor do they have intentions to do so.
Legal documents said allowing the farms to continue makes the damages against the plaintiffs incomplete, ineffectual and inadequate, providing no remedy.
Court documents agreed the plaintiffs are entitled to permanent injunctive relief.
“The Court understands that this effectively shuts down the entire operation of Defendant Huynhs at the Malakoff location,” the judge’s ruling stated.
In addition, farm owners are ordered to clean up the property and remove all dead chickens, their waste, and byproducts of that waste, and prove it to the court in writing.
The court stated it considered all sides, including the pandemic and food shortages, but after the extensive testimony, felt the plaintiffs have established an ‘irreparable injury.’
According to public court documents from the original case, plaintiffs claimed they enjoyed the ‘peace, quiet and beauty of clean country living.’
When the defendants started a 16-barn chicken farm next door, each having the potential to hold nearly 30,000 chickens in mid 2016 everything changed.
Exhaust fans, machinery, and other noises filled the air now according to the group. One claimed earplugs were needed to enjoy their property.
The farms could have nearly two million chickens go through per year and with an estimated waste level of 3 to 5%. Over the course of that year, nearly 70,000 chickens could be left to rot in a compost pile.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found them in violation of nuisance statutes on multiple occasions. The neighbors complaints included sickening odors, excessive noise, harmful gas emissions, health concerns and waste runoff.
The Athens Review reached out to numerous attorneys on both sides for comment but received no response.
“It is our policy not to comment on pending litigation. Because the matter is on appeal to the Texas Court of Appeals, it is still pending,” stated Mike Cockrell, Sanderson Farms Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Legal Officer.
“I can tell you that the final order in the case determined that the plaintiffs in the suit were entitled to zero monetary damages, but did order a permanent injunction against the independent contract poultry producers operating the poultry farms in question. Those farms belong to the local family farmers – not Sanderson Farms.”