Perdue Awarded $28K In Fees From Legal Battle

BERLIN — A landmark civil suit inched closer to closure this week when a federal court clerk awarded Perdue over $28,000 in various legal fees expended to defend the case.
In March 2010, the New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance, along with the Assateague Coastal Trust and the Assateague Coastkeeper, filed suit in U.S. District Court against Perdue and Berlin’s Hudson Farm, a contract factory farm operation of about 80,000 birds. The suit was filed after sampling in ditches adjacent to the property allegedly revealed high levels of harmful fecal coliform and E. coli that violated the Clean Water Act.
After three years of legal wrangling, the case finally went to trial last October and concluded after 10 days of testimony during which experts on both sides testified on the merits of the case. In late December, U.S. District Court Judge William Nickerson ruled in favor of Perdue and Alan Hudson, opining the Waterkeeper Alliance was not successful in proving a Clean Water Act violation.
In early January, each of the defendants filed separate motions seeking reimbursement for attorney fees and other costs associated with litigating the three-year case. Perdue sought $2.5 million in attorney fees and other costs from the plaintiff, while the Hudson Farm sought $500,000.
Included in Perdue’s reimbursement attempt against the Waterkeeper Alliance was $37,955 in fees in witness depositions and trial transcripts, for example. Perdue was also seeking nearly $76,000 in fees for the production and presentation of documents and graphic trial exhibits, but the Waterkeeper Alliance earlier objected to those costs, asserting they were costs to be borne by the defendant in the litigation of the case and Perdue dropped that reimbursement package.
Nonetheless, Perdue pushed forward in the pursuit of nearly $38,000 in fees the company spent for deposition and trial transcripts. However, the Waterkeeper Alliance objected to over $11,000 of the requested reimbursement and a new figure amenable to each party of $26,485 was reached. The Fourth Circuit clerk this week formally awarded Perdue just over $28,000 in various legal fees the company expended.
While the ruling this week does bring some measure of closure to the case that has been plodding along for over three years, there is still the issue of reimbursement for the Hudson family for their various legal costs. No ruling on those costs have been handed down.