Kossuth County District Court rejects attempt to block construction of sow operation

On April 26, a Kossuth County District Court judge refused to grant an injunction requested by a group of neighbors to stop construction of a 5,400 sow, farrow-towean operation to be located five and half miles south and five miles east of Algona. In the case of Simpson v. Kollasch Land & Livestock, the judge ruled that the neighbors did not prove that a nuisance “will clearly and necessarily result from the operation of the facility as presently approved.”

All of the neighbors who filed the lawsuit live at least 1 mile away from the site (all but two residences are at least 2 miles away). The neighbors filed their lawsuit under the legal theory of anticipated nuisance. In Iowa, a court will not grant an injunction blocking construction of an operation as an anticipated nuisance unless “it clearly appears a nuisance will necessarily result.”

In their lawsuit the neighbors alleged, by their own testimony and through expert testimony, that the operation would reduce their property values, cause groundwater contamination, produce odor that would be a nuisance, and cause health problems. Kollasch presented evidence, including expert testimony, which disputed all of these claims.

The judge ruled on each claim as follows:
  1. there was conflicting evidence regarding declining property values so the court could not rule that such a decline would “necessarily or certainly” occur;
  2. concerns regarding groundwater contamination were “speculative and remote”; 
  3. while odors will be produced by the operation, the evidence showed that with proper management the operation “need not necessarily constitute a nuisance”; and
  4. there was no “credible evidence that a serious health threat is posed to normal individuals one or more miles away.”
    The judge concluded by noting that this decision does not protect the sow operation from liability for nuisance if it is ruled to be a nuisance after it is in operation.

For more information on the case, or to acquire a copy of the full court opinion, please contact the IPPA at 800- 372-7675.