Resolute's lawsuits are an abuse of court system, Greenpeace argues in latest legal filing

Press release - June 6, 2017
Montreal, June 1 2017 -- Greenpeace Canada today filed a “Motion to Dismiss” Resolute Forest Products’ multimillion dollar lawsuit, arguing that permitting this SLAPP suit to continue would be an abuse of the court process and would allow Resolute to litigate the same case in parallel in both Canada and U.S. courts and seek “two opportunities to recover [damages] before two courts” for the same purported losses. [1]

Montreal, June 1 2017 -- Greenpeace Canada today filed a “Motion to Dismiss” Resolute Forest Products’ multimillion dollar lawsuit, arguing that permitting this SLAPP suit to continue would be an abuse of the court process and would allow Resolute to litigate the same case in parallel in both Canada and U.S. courts and seek “two opportunities to recover [damages] before two courts” for the same purported losses. 1

The motion shows Resolute's abusive multi-jurisdictional legal strategy for what it is: a way to manipulate the court system in an attempt to silence Greenpeace.

“When one court says no 2 , Resolute turns around and tries the same tactics in another jurisdiction. Resolute is using their massive corporate resources to finance two simultaneous court proceedings which aim to cripple Greenpeace by weighing us down with legal fees and distracting us from the real issues: protecting our boreal forest,” said Shane Moffatt, Head of Forest Campaign of Greenpeace Canada, and a defendant in the Ontario case.

Greenpeace’s motion to dismiss also argues that Resolute “engaged in forum shopping” in order to avoid jurisdictions such as Québec that have strong anti-SLAPP legislation. Even though most of the disputed practices occurred in Québec, Resolute chose to file its lawsuit in Ontario, which did not yet have anti-SLAPP laws in 2013. Most recently, Resolute’s attempt to litigate its other $300 million case to criminalize Greenpeace advocacy in the state of Georgia fell flat when a federal judge found Resolute failed to demonstrate that the case should be heard there. Again, Resolute had filed its suit in Georgia just weeks before the state strengthened their anti-SLAPP legislation.

Greenpeace also maintains that the Canadian lawsuit could set a dangerous precedent, as this case would “limit freedom of expression on matters of public interest” not only in this case but for other environmentalists, community groups and individuals who would wish to speak out for the public interest in the future.3

Greenpeace will argue this Motion to Dismiss orally before the court on August 10th.4

Note to editor:

[1] Resolute sued Greenpeace Canada and two staff members for 7 million CAD in 2013 after Greenpeace launched a campaign focusing on the company's unsustainable logging practices in the boreal forest. Resolute subsequently filed a 300 million CAD lawsuit in the United States in 2016 against Greenpeace International and U.S. Greenpeace entities, as well as Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) and five staff members. The US action is also focused on the Canadian Resolute operations in the boreal forest, essentially using two jurisdictions to try the same case.

[2] When the U.S. court ordered a stay on discovery, Resolute amended its discovery plan in the Ontario proceedings that would in effect attempt to circumvent the order issued by the US District Court. In this way, when the Canadian case goes to discovery, Resolute will try to obtain access to the documents even though the US ruling specifically put the discovery process on hold.

[3] Greenpeace also maintains that the Canadian lawsuit is intended “to limit, or gag,” Greenpeace Canada's ability to advocate on these matters of public interest, and it therefore represents a classic case of Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”). As a typical SLAPP suit, the suit seeks millions of dollars in damages all the while imposing overwhelming litigation costs with the strategy of seeking to expand the litigation as broadly as possible.

[4] Click here to read the full “Motion to Dismiss”.