Factory Dairies' Slapp Suit Dismissed

Idaho Rural Council
P.O. Box 118
Bliss, ID 83314
208.352.4477 •

Factory Dairies' Slapp Suit Dismissed

Don Cogger, Idaho Rural Council 208-733-5121
Charlie Tebbutt, Western Environmental Law Center 541-485-2471

A lawsuit trying to silence Idaho Rural Council members and their attorneys was recently dismissed by agreement of the parties prior to a scheduled trial. The case was filed in

1999 by brothers Jake and Henry Bosma and Gooding County attorney Tom Arkoosh against the Butler family of Spring Cove Ranch, Bliss, Idaho, and IRC's attorney Charlie Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law Center, Eugene, Oregon.

Idaho Rural Council President Jack Thornborrow stated: "The Bosmas and attorney Arkoosh knew from the beginning that this suit was groundless and with trial approaching figured they had better dismiss the case before they got in more trouble. This was a classic polluter retaliation against the people who brought the polluters' actions to public attention. The lawsuit never achieved its goal of silencing IRC, its members or attorneys about the egregious polluting practices of this factory dairy."

Charlie Tebbutt, IRC's attorney from the Western Environmental Law Center, emphasized: "This was nothing more than an ill-conceived SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit against the Butlers and me. There was no legitimate basis for the action and the Bosmas and Arkoosh knew that from the beginning. They knew that if this case went to trial they had no chance of winning and so they agreed to dismiss the case." Tebbutt added, "the Bosmas are proven polluters and they wrongly

figured they could silence their critics through legal bullying when their extra-legal bullying tactics had failed. We called their bluff and they backed down, as bullies always do."

The case, titled Jacob Bosma and Henry Bosma, dba Grandview Dairies v. Art and Stacy Butler [and others], CV 99-00704, was scheduled to go to trial on April 22, 2002. A second related state case over management practices and pollution problems from the dairy has been postponed without a new trial date yet determined. A Clean Water Act violation case entitled Idaho Rural Council v. Jacob Bosma and Henry Bosma was settled by order of the Idaho federal court, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, on March 22, 2002. In the federal case the Bosmas agreed to fix numerous leaking lagoons and pay IRC's attorney fees of $150,000.

The Idaho Rural Council is a not-for-profit, membership organization committed to preserving the economic well-being of Idaho's family farms and rural communities.

The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a not-for-profit public interest law firm with offices in Eugene, Oregon, Ketchum, Idaho, and Taos, New Mexico. WELC also successfully represented citizens in the Yakima Valley in Washington against Henry Bosma and other factory dairies near Sunnyside, WA. The Washington Bosma case resulted in a judgment against Bosma for $171,500 in civil penalties for improper discharges of manure waste and an award of the citizens' fees and costs in excess of $425,000. The case is now on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and is scheduled for argument on June 3 in Seattle. Six other Washington cases, including yet another one against Bosma, resulted in settlements which call for increased environmental protections.

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