TULSA A federal judge in Tulsa ruled today that the Cherokee Nation cannot intervene in a federal lawsuit against Tyson Foods and six other poultry companies over spreading poultry manure in the Illinois River watershed.
Following U.S. District Judge Greg Frizzell's decision, Oklahoma attorneys withdrew their request to seek a four-month delay in the start of the trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday.
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is suing the seven poultry companies, accusing them of spreading poultry litter on farms in the watershed and harming the Illinois River. Edmondson also claims the litter is a health hazard to boaters and swimmers in the area.
Edmondson had an agreement with the Cherokee to allow the state to represent the tribe in the trial. However, Frizzell threw out that agreement and the tribe asked the judge on Sept. 2 to join the suit.
Diane Hammons, attorney general for the Cherokee Nation, said she plans to appeal Frizzell's ruling with the appellate court in Denver and will file papers either today or Wednesday.
Frizzell said before his ruling that he could start the trial on Monday even if the appellate court has not decided the issue.
Defendants in the lawsuit are Tyson; Simmons Foods; Cargill Inc.; Cobb-Vantress Inc.; George's Inc.; Peterson Farms; Willow Brook Foods of Springfield, Mo.; and Cal-Maine Foods Inc. of Jackson, Miss.