The University of Maryland environmental law clinic may have to pay up to $500,000 in legal expenses to the people they’ve sued, according to new bill. The clinic represented the Waterkeeper Alliance in a suit against Perdue Farms Inc. suppliers at Hudson farm, which is a small family owned business charged with contaminating the rivers by illegally polluting the waterways.
The battle has been going on since 2010, and Republican State senator Richard Colburn brought out the bill on February 13, that could make the university pay, saying that “As middle-income farmers, the Hudsons are unable to pay the exorbitantly high legal fees associated with the process, and several fund-raisers have been established to assist the family. While the equitable solution seems to be that the law school should simply provide legal counsel for both sides of the case, the political ramifications of doing so are not in line with the agenda of most clinics.”
State Delegate Patrick McDonough has already introduced a bill on February 8 that would limit the law clinic from representing non-indigent plaintiffs. A hearing is scheduled for February 21 regarding that, and another trial is schedule for April regarding the February 13 bill.
Last November, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley expressed a similar concern when he wrote a letter to the clinic denouncing its “ongoing injustice,” in costing the farmers their land and bringing them into bankruptcy.
The politicians focused on the legal expenses of the middle-income farmers, but not the allegations of the way they handled their business. Their have mainly focused on how the clinic is using state provided funds.