Thursday, September 07, 2000

Ag society fair game in lawsuit over prize pig

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A county agricultural society can be sued for its actions during a livestock competition, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a dispute over a pig raised as a 4-H Club project.

        The Greene County Agricultural Society had argued that, as a governmental entity, it could not be sued for defamation for stripping a pig named Big Fat of its ribbons and trophies.

        In a 4-3 ruling, the court said the society could be sued because conducting an agricultural competition is considered a private activity and not a governmental function. The decision sends the case back to Greene County Common Pleas Court.

        The hog was named Reserve Grand Champion of the Greene County Fair in May 1996. After it was sold at auction and slaughtered, fair officials contended that owner Laura Liming of Jamestown bought the hog after the fair's purchase deadline.

        The society banned Ms. Liming from showing livestock at the fair for three years and sued her to retrieve $1,084 in prize money. She countersued for defamation. The trial and appeals courts ruled that the agricultural society could not be held liable because it was enforcing rules to fulfill a function of government.

        Justices Alice Robie Resnick, Andrew Douglas, Francis Sweeney and Paul Pfeifer voted in the majority. Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and justices Deborah Cook and Evelyn Lundberg Stratton dissented.


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