While it wasn't clear which party requested postponement, Waterkeeper Alliance's controversial lawsuit against Alan and Kristin Hudson Farm of Berlin, Md., and Perdue Farms has been reset for Oct. 9. The U.S. District Court trial was to begin this week in Baltimore.
The plaintiffs are suing Hudson Farm and Perdue Farms Inc., claiming that the Salisbury-based poultry company and the Worcester County contract grower were polluting a nearby waterway. Allegations in the lawsuit filed on behalf of New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance by the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic have morphed several times over, as pointed out by the court's Senior Judge William Nickerson in a March 1 letter to both parties.
Nickerson had strongly urged settlement. But both parties have much to lose via settlement. Since Hudson Farms is not in violation of state environmental regulations, Waterkeeper, via the law clinic, is pressing for a judicial precedent to override state regulations and hold Perdue Farms legally responsible for alleged pollution by contract growers.
Key to this case is whether the plaintiffs can clearly established that pollutants from the Hudson Farm made their way to the Franklin Branch of the Pocomoke River, and that the claims are within the scope of the lawsuit's original intent. For more details, click on: ecoterrorists_editorial
Perdue and the Hudsons sought a trial date in late May/early June, according to Perdue Spokeswoman Julie DeYoung. But, an early trial date was not available. DeYoung says "Perdue and the Hudsons look forward to the opportunity to present their case to the judge in October."
Also at this week's Delmarva Poultry Industry's 56th annual Booster Banquet, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley recognized the Hudsons, saying that the allegations against the family "struck me as an injustice.""Thank you for hanging in there," the governor added. Noting that wastewater treatment facilities and urban sprawl contribute to pollution woes of the Chesapeake Bay, he stated: "You should not be litigated off your land."