With all the activist hype over mad cow disease, the reclassification of fish as a dangerous entrée, and the so-called “dangers” of feeding milk to children, it’s easy for pork to get lost in the shuffle. Who would want to raise a stink over The Other White Meat? No need to wonder. Where there’s pork, there’s profit — and where there’s a deep pocket, opportunistic trial lawyers can’t be far behind. We’ve already seen the plaintiff’s bar — led by John “Sue the Bastards” Banzhaf — gearing up for a multi-billion-dollar legal assault against food providers for causing obesity. In the world of raising hogs, Banzhaf’s counterpart is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. And a major anti-pork lawsuit filed this week in Kansas City has Kennedy’s fingerprints — and those of his Waterkeeper Alliance director and law partner Kevin Madonna — all over it.
Kennedy has estimated that the potential payoff from suing pork farmers could top $13 billion, bragging: “We have attorneys now who have money and they know what they’re doing.” Divide the likely attorney’s “commissions” among Kennedy’s 11-firm legal dream team, and his own two-partner law office could have a $200 million payday.
The latest suit, filed this week in Kansas City against Premium Standard Farms, seeks to reap “unspecified” punitive damages (translation: as much money as the court will allow) by turning livestock odors into a class-action matter for every Iowan living within 10 miles of the pig farm. And that’s just for openers. Kennedy told the Kansas City Star on Wednesday: “We are going to sue every one of these facilities.” This from the same man who claimed in 2002 that pork farmers were a greater threat to the United States and democracy than bin Laden’s terrorist network.
Kennedy and Madonna apparently want to turn future pork chops into the stuff of war-crimes tribunals. What they lack in judgment, they make up in enthusiasm. In 2001 Madonna warned the American Veterinary Medical Association that his legal team planned on “filing hundreds of lawsuits” against pork producers.
Charles Speer, the lead attack-dog in the Premium Standard suit, has fronted for Kennedy before. In 2002 Speer and Kennedy attempted to sue a pork company under organized-crime “RICO” laws, but the case was dismissed when a judge wrote that it “failed to state anything at all, except conclusory allegations that have no support.” She also ordered Kennedy, Speer, and their associated legal-eagles to pay for their target’s legal expenses.
Attorneys Melvyn I. Weiss and David A.P. Brower are also involved in this week’s lawsuit. Remember StarLink corn? The activist-targeted biotech variety that turned out to be harmless? Brower and Weiss made a bundle suing StarLink’s manufacturer anyway. Weiss is listed by Mother Jones magazine as the 24th most prolific political campaign contributor in America. So much for tort reform.
This week, just in time to piggy-back on the latest Kennedy-inspired lawsuit, activist groups called the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) are promoting a report claiming that Iowa farming operations are rife with environmental lawbreaking. The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers is already firing back, with a list of the report’s many mistakes.
So where does this vicious circle start? It may begin with the Rockefeller Family Fund, a major donor to EIP, ICCI, and Kennedy’s Waterkeeper group. Read more about the Rockefeller’s money and its impact on the future of food at our award-winning website, ActivistCash.com.