Farmer sues over 'super pig' genetic defects


A Cork farmer has claimed at the High Court that the "super pigs" which he was led to believe he was purchasing for breeding purposes turned out to have such serious genetic defects that they had to be put down. Mr Denis O'Riordan claims he suffered a massive financial loss as a result of being misled about the pigs and had to sell land to clear his debts.

Mr O'Riordan, Coachford, Co Cork, is seeking substantial damages for income lost as a result of buying the breeding pigs from Kerry Agribusiness, a subsidiary of the Kerry Group.

Mr O'Riordan and his company, Westview Pig Farm Ltd, are also suing the Tralee-based pig processing and bacon curing company, Henry Denny and Son Ltd, another Kerry Group subsidiary. They claim the pigs suffered from serious genetic defects.

Mr Michael Cush SC, for the defendants, told Mr Justice Smyth yesterday his clients were making a number of concessions, including that at the time of supplying Mr O'Riordan with 426 Swedish gilts (pigs) in 1993, the defendant did not comply with the contractual obligations and instead provided him with 437 gilts, of which 208 were Swedish pigs. The remainder consisted of 22 Norwegian and 207 commercial pigs.

The defence also conceded that Mr O'Riordan did not receive the pigs he had contracted to acquire and when he questioned the defendants about the pigs, he received explanations which were untrue. However, Mr Cush said, there was no admission the losses claimed flowed from breach of contract.

Mr O'Riordan had been charged the full price.

Mr Dermot Gleeson SC, for the plaintiffs, said Mr O'Riordan had extensive consultations with the defendants over the purchase of the pigs which meant he had to destock and restock.

At the time, Kerry Group was looking worldwide for the best possible pig breed, Mr Gleeson said, and it drew Mr O'Riordan's attention to Scan, a Swedish company, as the best in the world.Mr Gleeson said his client was given the impression that they were the best pigs in the world and of a super-mythical quality. The defence had persistently continued with this deception until yesterday.

The case is expected to last some weeks.