Perdue files for legal fees in pollution case

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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SALISBURY, Md. – Attorneys for Perdue Farms Inc. are seeking reimbursement for legal costs incurred fighting a lawsuit by the New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance.

“Based on their zealous determination to proceed to trial and the Court’s characterization of their actions as ‘not responsible’ and that Perdue should be ‘commended, not condemned,’ we are fully justified in asking the court to grant us reimbursement for the costs of defending ourselves,” said Herb Frerichs, Perdue Farms general counsel.

Alan and Kristin Hudson, owners of the family farm named in the suit with Perdue, also filed for reimbursement of their litigation costs.

Perdue Farms said in January the company would seek to recoup $2.5 million in legal fees from the Waterkeeper Alliance. The organization sued the company and Hudson Farm in Berlin, Md. on allegations that chicken manure from Hudson Farm was polluting local waters that ultimately flow to the Chesapeake Bay. The group argued that Perdue Farms also should be liable for the pollution.

Judge William Nickerson of the US District Court in Baltimore ruled in favor of Perdue Farms and the Hudsons in December 2012. Judge Nickerson said the plaintiffs did not prove their case. The plaintiffs declined to appeal the ruling.

Frerichs said the Waterkeeper Alliance incurs no cost when it files a lawsuit because the group's lead counsel "is paid by Maryland taxpayers" and has all the resources of the Univ. of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic at its disposal.

“Simply put, awarding litigation fees is the most effective way to discourage the Waterkeeper Alliance from doing more of the same, Frerichs said. Undeterred by defeat in this Court, they can simply move on and sue the next farm.”

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