If Tribe Intervenes in Poultry Lawsuit, Oklahoma Wants Delay

September 8, 2009

The State of Oklahoma has asked a federal judge to delay the trial of its lawsuit against 12 poultry companies until January if the Cherokee Nation is allowed to intervene in the case.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell has scheduled a Sept. 16 hearing on the request, a day after he is scheduled to hear arguments on the tribe’s motion to intervene in the 4-year-old case.

The state claims poultry companies are legally responsible for the handling and disposal of poultry waste that allegedly has damaged portions of the Illinois River watershed in Oklahoma. The case is scheduled for trial on Sept. 21.

Attorney John Tucker, representing defendants Cargill Inc. and Cargill Turkey Production, said that the case will be ready for trial on Sept. 21 and should be tried as scheduled.

Tyson Foods Inc., one of the other defendants, said in a statement, “We continue to prepare for trial on Sept. 21 and are looking forward to presenting our case to the judge and jury.”

The Cherokees’ right to protect its interest in the Illinois River watershed was made an issue in the case. The motion notes that a July 22 order by Frizzell suggests that the tribe “is entitled to intervene in this case.”

Frizzell wrote in that order, “This court concludes that, with respect to the claims for money damages, disposing of the case in the Cherokee Nation’s absence may impair or impede the Cherokee Nation’s ability to protect its interests.”

Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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