Emma Maddux (’13) Argues in the Fourth Circuit as part of Appellate Advocacy Clinic

Photo of Director of Appellate Advocacy Clinic John Korzen, Hillary Kies ('13), Emma Maddux ('13), and clinic client Tate MacQueen.

Director of Appellate Advocacy Clinic John Korzen, Hillary Kies ('13), Emma Maddux ('13), and clinic client Tate MacQueen.

Emma Maddux (’13) argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, on Jan. 30 as part of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic.

The Fourth Circuit is the federal appeals court for five states:  Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Maddux was the third Appellate Advocacy Clinic member to argue in the Fourth Circuit this school year.

Maddux argued on behalf of 25 plaintiffs in the case of Waldburger v. CTS Corporation, a civil nuisance action.  Also representing the plaintiffs on appeal are Hillary Kies (’13) and Professor John Korzen, the director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic.  The plaintiffs, who live in or near Asheville, allege that the defendant contaminated their property and well water by dumping toxic chemicals into the environment.

The issue on appeal is whether a limitations period in the federal CERCLA environmental statute, which allows plaintiffs to sue after they know or should know of their harm, preempts statutes of repose such as the one contained in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52(16), which can bar claims before plaintiffs are even aware of their harm.  Federal courts are divided on the issue, including a 1-1 circuit split.

Maddux, Kies and Professor Korzen prepared a Brief of Appellants in June and a Reply Brief of Appellants in August.  Kies and the other Clinic students helped Maddux prepare for oral argument.

The Fourth Circuit panel of judges consisted of Judge Andre Davis of Maryland, Judge Henry Floyd of South Carolina, and Judge Stephanie Thacker of West Virginia.  Judges Floyd and Thacker are the two newest judges on the Fourth Circuit, having joined it in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Maddux had a supportive audience.  One of the plaintiffs, Tate MacQueen, attended the oral argument, along with a former resident of the contaminated area.  The plaintiffs’ two trial attorneys also attended.  Finally, both of Maddux’s parents were also there.

For the first time, the Appellate Advocacy Clinic faced two opposing counsel at once.  In addition to the defendant’s counsel, an attorney for the United States argued as amicus counsel in support of the defendant.  The two attorneys split the twenty minutes allotted to the defendant.

“I could not be more proud of Emma, Hillary, and the rest of the Clinic members for their support,” Professor Korzen said.  “Emma immediately incorporated suggestions from one practice to the next and, in Richmond, was more than up to the task of facing two experienced attorneys.”

The Appellate Advocacy Clinic is a two-semester course for 3Ls.  This year the Clinic has 10 students working on six appeals in four different jurisdictions.  For more information about the Clinic, contact Professor Korzen.