(h/t: Overlawyered) We have previously covered the controversy surrounding the law suit filed by the University of Maryland's environmental clinic against the largest chicken processor in the state. (According to this U-Md site, the head of the clinic, Professor Jane Barrett, carefully made the decision to file the suit.) The industry pushed back with criticism and political muscle, but as has been true around the country when industry has attacked law school clinics, the U-Maryland law school clinic received support for its actions and was undeterred by the criticism.
Now the federal judge has ruled on the merits and was openly critical of the litigation strategy, the tactics, the failure to supply important evidence, the plaintiffs' witnesses, and the plaintiffs' decision to sue Perdue (the chicken processor). Having been a plaintiffs-side lawyer and being a firm believer in the efficacy of enforcement actions, I'm generally in favor of law school clinics bringing suits to right wrongs. But perhaps this litigation could be a case study to teach students how to bring such suits responsibly. The concluding paragraph:
The Court has no disagreement with Plaintiff that the Chesapeake Bay is an important and vital resource, that it is seriously impaired, and that the runoff from factory farms, including poultry operations, may play a significant role in that impairment. Nor does the Court disagree that citizen suits under the Clean Water Act can play a significant role in filling the void where state regulatory agencies are unable or unwilling to take appropriate legal action against offenders. When citizen groups take up that mantle, however, they must do so responsibly and effectively. The Court finds that in this action, for whatever reason, Waterkeeper did not meet that obligation.