**Supreme Court Upholds Award for **Marathon County Dairy Farmers ](“http://www.nachi.org/forum/”)
MADISON— The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld a nearly $533,000 award to Marathon County dairy farmers who claim a power company’s stray voltage hurt their cows’ milk production.
[In a 4-to-3 split decision Thursday, the court rejected arguments made by Northern States Power Company that the lower court’s decision be overturned.
The company has argued that some of the verdict questions a judge submitted to the jury were in error. But the state’s high court says no errors were made.
In the Marathon County case, James and Michael Gumz of rural Athens said they began noticing physical and behavioral problems in their herd in 1991, 10 years after they bought their parents’ dairy farm. The problems included cow deaths and poor milk production.
The problems persisted, and in 1996 they asked Northern States Power to conduct tests for stray voltage.
Stray voltage is electricity that leaks from a utility’s electrical distribution system or farm wiring. Some utility companies argue stray voltage isn’t a problem, while some farmers claim it hurts cows’ health.
The power company said its tests showed the “cow contact voltage” was below the “level of concern.” However, an independent electrical tester hired by the farmers determined that stray voltage from the power company’s distribution system was coming onto the farm.
The Gumzes sued in 2001 and were awarded $332,336 by a Marathon County jury for lost milk production and lost market value of their cows and $200,000 for “annoyance” and loss of use and enjoyment of their property.
An appeals court upheld the ruling, which the Supreme Court affirmed Thursday. The high court said the Gumzes’ action was not barred under the state’s six-year statute of limitations because they showed reasonable diligence in investigating the cause of damage to their herd.
The court also ruled in favor of Clark County dairy farmers in a stray voltage case, sending it back to a lower court for a ruling.
[URL=“http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071206/WDH0101/71206053/1981”]Wausau Daily Herald](http://www.nachi.org/forum/)