A group of 18 plaintiffs live near hog farm facilities in North Carolina. Defendants Murphy-Brown and Smithfield Foods owned the hogs on the facilities. The plaintiffs brought nuisance and trespass claims alleging that the defendants' farming activities caused flies, dust, and manure to come onto their property. The defendants petitioned the court for summary judgment.

Under North Carolina law, a trespass claim requires proof that a detectable substance not only crossed over but actually landed on the plaintiff’s property. Wall v. Trogdon, 107 S.E.2d 757, 762 (N.C. 1959). Several defendants claimed that they saw manure from trucks spill onto the highway next to their homes. Yet, they did not offer evidence that the waste came onto their property. Additionally, the plaintiffs failed to prove that the defendants caused the alleged dust or manure to enter the properties instead of other neighboring farms or passing vehicles.

Similarly, the plaintiffs failed to provide a link between their negligence claim and the defendants’ actions. A negligence claim requires a showing that “the negligent breach of [the defendant’s] duty was the proximate cause of the injury.” Whisnant v. Carolina Farm Credit,693 S.E.2d 149, 156 (2010). As a result, the district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

Barden v. Murphy-Brown LLC, 2023 WL 5282376 (E.D. N.C. Aug. 16, 2023).