Judge Awards $1.7 Million in EPA Malicious Prosecution Case

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On September 30, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ordered the United States to pay $1.7 million in a malicious prosecution lawsuit to Hubert Vidrine, based on findings that the U.S. government had maliciously prosecuted Vidrine for alleged environmental crimes. This is a rare ruling by a federal court requiring the government to pay money damages for the overzealous actions of its agents.

In September 1996, agents from multiple law enforcement agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) executed a search warrant on Canal Refining Company, where Vidrine worked as a manager. The search was based on the assertion that hazardous materials may have been improperly stored at the facility in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. However, the search did not uncover evidence of any violations.

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