An Oregon dairy farm whose cows escaped to trespass onto a neighbor’s property owes about $26,500 for trampling and manure damage to organic crops.
The incident occurred in 2014 but Simington Gardens, an organic produce farm, didn’t file a lawsuit against the dairy, Rock Ridge Farms, until last year.
According to court documents, the two farms tried to resolve the problem out of court but were unable to agree on the amount of compensation.
The plaintiff alleged that up to nine cows, as well as several dairy workers who later rounded them up, caused roughly $55,000 in destroyed property, lost profits and mitigations costs. Organic rules required Simington Gardens to leave the field where cows defecated fallow for 120 days.
In its lawsuit, Simington Gardens argued it was owed double or triple that amount under Oregon laws intended to discourage damages caused during trespass.
Rock Ridge Farms is owned by Chuck Eggert, an entrepreneur who also founded Pacific Natural Foods, which the Campbell Soup Co. agreed to buy for $700 million earlier this year.
The defendant argued the lawsuit could have been avoided, as Rock Ridge Farms offered to pay “out-of-pocket” costs and provide its own organic-certified property for Simington Gardens to plant replacement crops.
The trespass by cows was unintentional, so the organic produce farm wasn’t entitled to double or triple the amount of damages, according to the dairy.
After a four-day civil trial, a 12-person jury found last month that Rock Ridge Farms had committed trespass and awarded Simington Gardens about $20,800 in lost profits, $2,500 in property damage and $3,200 in mitigation expenses.