Perdue Farms is seeking up to $2.5 million in attorney fees after its victory in a poultry pollution case that had been closely watched by environmentalist and agriculture interests for its potential impact on the industry, a company spokeswoman told the Associated Press.
Perdue Farms hopes to recoup attorney fees from the New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance, which sued the company and an Eastern Shore contract grower, Perdue spokeswoman Julie DeYoung said.
In its filing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Perdue Farms said that the environmental group continued to litigate what it called a groundless case after learning that an uncovered pile of what was claimed to be chicken manure turned out to be harmless. The company also said the court had noted that while defendants are "not normally entitled to recover their legal fees, such an award would not be unprecedented."
A federal judge ruled in December 2012 that Alan Hudson, who raises chickens for Perdue, did not pollute a nearby river as the environmental group claimed. U.S. District Judge William Nickerson ruled the alliance failed to prove its case.
The alliance argued that Perdue, which owns the chickens and monitors their growth, should also be held responsible.
The poultry industry has more than 1,600 family farms on the Eastern Shore, and agriculture interests said a ruling against Perdue and the farm could have been catastrophic to farmers and the industry.