Friday News: The cost of doing bad business


ATTORNEYS FOR HOG NEIGHBORS SEEK MILLIONS IN COMPENSATORY DAMAGES: The lead attorney for hog farm neighbors suing Smithfield Foods over the pig waste near their homes on Thursday asked a jury for $2 million to $4 million per plaintiff in compensatory damages as closing arguments wrapped and the case went to the jury. The request is significant: Punitive damages in civil lawsuits, which are meant to punish the defendant, are capped in North Carolina, limiting the harm Smithfield suffered in two previous trials, where juries awarded six figures in compensatory damages against the pork giant but tens of millions in punitive awards that largely evaporated due to the cap. So far, his team is 2-0 against the company, with the juries agreeing the farms unfairly interfered with the neighbor's ability to enjoy their own property.

NC LIBERTARIAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE ARRESTED FOR STALKING: A U.S. House candidate was arrested and charged with stalking his wife, according to police records. Japheth “Jeff” Matemu, the Libertarian Party candidate in the 2nd Congressional District, was charged with misdemeanor stalking and cyberstalking on June 26 after an incident that occurred at his wife’s home in Holly Springs on June 17. He was arrested on July 18. Matemu and his wife were married in 2005 and have one minor child. They do not live together now and have been in a custody battle. His wife filed for a protective order against Matemu in May, but it was denied, according to Wake County court documents. Republican Rep. George Holding currently represents the 2nd District, which includes all or parts of Wake, Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties. Democratic challenger Linda Coleman is also running in the November election.

NC BOARD OF EDUCATION CHAIRMAN SUBMITS RESIGNATION: State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey submitted his resignation Wednesday, saying it's time for him to move on and spend more time with family. His resignation comes just as State Superintendent Mark Johnson has taken more control of the state education agency after a lengthy legal battle with the state board. Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to appoint Cobey's replacement on the board, pending confirmation by the legislature. Cooper's three previous State Board of Education appointments had been pending more than a year when lawmakers voted on them in June, a running source of friction between the administration and the GOP-controlled legislature. The majority accepted Cooper's reappointment of board member Reginald Kenan, but it voted down Cooper's new picks, retired professor Sandra Byrd and J.B. Buxton, a former deputy state superintendent and an adviser in former Gov. Mike Easley's administration.

ANITA EARLS HAS MORE THAN DOUBLE HER OPPONENT'S FUNDRAISING DOLLARS: Earls raised nearly $500,000 through June, according to campaign finance reports. With several months still to go until the election, she could personally surpass the $675,000 that both candidates combined to raise in 2016. “I am honored to have strong support from people across North Carolina who want an independent voice on the state Supreme Court,” Earls said in a written statement. “As a civil rights attorney, I have spent my career working with families to ensure all voices are heard in our system and as a justice I will ensure a court where the rules are the same for everyone, not favoring political insiders or those with great wealth and power.” Earls is running against an incumbent Supreme Court associate justice, Barbara Jackson. A Republican seeking re-election to the bench, Jackson raised more than $225,000 through June.

SECURITY OFFICIALS PUSHING TRUMP ON FOREIGN ELECTION INTERFERENCE ISSUES: Responding to bipartisan criticism that it has no clear national strategy to protect the country during the upcoming midterms and beyond, John Bolton, the national security adviser, wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats that “President Trump has not and will not tolerate interference in America’s system of representative government.” The warning to American adversaries came as top U.S. intelligence and homeland security officials raised alarms about potential efforts to influence the 2018 and 2020 elections. Homeland security chief Kirstjen Nielsen said: “Our democracy is in the crosshairs.” “We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said. Their comments during a White House briefing followed weeks after Trump publicly undermined the conclusions of American intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference. After suffering a bipartisan outcry, Trump later said he accepted those conclusions.