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UMD law clinic sues on behalf of the 1 percent

The University of Maryland Carey School of Law Environmental Law Clinic's pro bono legal services for the Waterkeepers Alliance are supporting organizations that would qualify as 1 percenters if they were individuals. Associate Dean Teresa LaMaster defended this action in a recent radio interview, stating that the Waterkeepers Alliance "don't really have the resources to fund a case," and their "local organizations are not well funded and don't really have the resources to bring a case like this."

The evidence portrays a very different scenario. The 2010 tax returns from the Waterkeepers Alliance confirm that their New York organization had over $400,000 in cash, generated $3.6 million in revenue, and over $16 million in contributions over the last five years. They also provide their organizations, including Assateague Coastal Trust (co-plaintiffs in this suit), "with a wealth of resources including a team of experts in environmental law." The New York organization also spent over $300,000 in 2010 on one of their annual conferences in La Paz, Mexico. The group's annual fundraiser is Skifest — a celebrity filled event hosted in Deer Valley, Utah. This fundraiser brings in $435,000 for the title sponsor and $135,000 for corporate sponsors. The 2010 tax forms for Assateague Coastal Trust shows over $333,000 in cash and investments and $336,057 in revenue generated.

With millions in cash and revenues, the justification by Ms. LaMaster for pro bono support has no merit. By this logic, the Maryland Law School should be representing Wall Street interests, as their available resources have been severely diminished due to their loss of other people's money.

Ms. LaMaster further stated that it is "very difficult to find a lawyer in Maryland or elsewhere who is willing to litigate against Perdue." This statement is completely absurd when one considers the Maryland Bar Association has well over 300 lawyers in their environmental law section alone.

The only logical conclusion is the Carey School of Law saw an opportunity to add to their resume under the auspices of "education" with a suit against Perdue Farms. It is both irresponsible and unjust for the Maryland Law School (which is supported by our taxes) to harm the Hudson Family (a farming family which is in compliance with the Maryland Department of Environment) in order to build their school's standing in the legal community.

Farrell Keough

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