Perdue Farms and the family farmer who prevailed  in the critical water pollution lawsuit,  Waterkeeper’s Alliance vs. Alan and Kristin Hudson, are seeking to recoup attorney fees from the environmental group.  In federal court filings, Perdue Farms said it spent $2.5 million on the case and farmer Alan Hudson said he spent at least $500,000.

On December 20, Judge William M. Nickerson,  U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Maryland, ruled in favor of chicken growers Alan and Kristin Hudson and Perdue Farms  in a case filed against them by Waterkeeper Alliance Inc, saying the plaintiffs, did not prove their case.

The lawsuit initiated in 2009 alleged that the Hudson Farm polluted ditches that drain to the Pocomoke River and the Chesapeake Bay.  The Waterkeeper Alliance first said a pile of chicken manure caused a violation under the federal Clean Water Act.  However, the pile was later determined to be legal biosludge from the Ocean City sewage plant.  At that point, the environmental group focused on smaller potential sources of pollution, such as ventilation fans and foot traffic and tried to prove that Perdue Farms should be responsible for pollution by its contract farmers.

In an early ruling in the case, Judge Nickerson told both sides that he could award attorney’s fees to Perdue and Hudson if he ruled against the Waterkeeper Alliance.  In the court filings, Perdue wrote it would be “reasonable and fair” for the company to be able to recoup the $2.5 million it spent on the lawsuit.  Hudson’s lawyer wrote the lawsuit and trial did “nothing but demonstrate the irresponsible and frivolous nature of Plaintiff’s claims.”