Indiana Senate backs penalties over farm lawsuits

AP News
Posted: Feb 29, 2012 3:16 PM
Indiana Senate backs penalties over farm lawsuits

The Indiana Senate has endorsed a bill that would require judges to penalize plaintiffs found to have filed frivolous lawsuits against livestock farms.

The Senate voted 36-14 Wednesday in favor of the bill that would change current law giving judges discretion on whether to order anyone filing a frivolous lawsuit or offering a frivolous defense to pay attorney fees to the other side.

Supporters of that change say judges are often reluctant to order such penalties.

Environmentalists argue that such a change will have a "chilling effect" on those with legitimate complaints against sprawling, factory-style livestock farms. They say Indiana already has a strong law protecting the property rights of farmers.

The House and Senate still must agree on a final version of the bill.