U.S. District Court Judge William Nickerson recently heard and denied several pretrial motions by both plaintiff and defendant in the lawsuit Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. vs. Alan and Kristin Hudson, which related to expert witnesses and requests for summary judgement. The judge said that, after a review of all testimony, argument, and evidence, the court could not conclude that any party is entitled to judgement.

The civil case, which was filed in March 2010 named as defendants both the Hudsons and Perdue Farms Inc, for whom the farm is a contract grower, alleged that the farm was violating the Clean Water Act.  The violation was based on a pile of material on the property that was assumed to be  chicken waste running off into ditches and nearby streams.  The materials was, in fact, legal biosolid fertilizer material.

Subsequently, the Maryland Department of the Environment investigated, after which the Hudson Farm was declared in compliance.  But the Waterkeepers Alliance did not halt the lawsuit and turned to allegations that during rain events, trace amounts of chicken litter blown out of chicken houses by exhaust fans was being carried by rainwater into surrounding waterways in violation of the Clean Water Act.  Judge Nickerson pointed out in his ruling that, if this were the case, then every poultry operation on the Eastern Shore is likely also in violation of the Clean Act.

The case is scheduled to go to trial on April 16 and many across the country will be closely watching this important litigation.  SaveFarmFamilies.org is raising funds for Alan and Kristin Hudson, who are the target of the lawsuit, and raising awareness about tactics being used and the implications those tactics could have for family farms across the country.

 

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