Frequently Asked Questions on Resolute's lawsuit


Frequently Asked Questions on Resolute's lawsuit  
  • Why is Resolute suing Greenpeace and Stand.earth?

    Greenpeace, and Stand.earth has been campaigning for greater protections for the Boreal forest for many years. Over time, Greenpeace Canada has documented many shortcomings in Resolute Forest Products claims of sustainability in its Canadian operations, including:

    • - Failing to ensure the long term health of high conservation value forests
    • - Logging in critical caribou habitat in Ontario and Quebec
    • - Operating without the consent of some First Nations in their traditional territories
    • - Labeling paper as “eco-conscious” when it has no recycled content
    Greenpeace is calling on Resolute to address these issues and undertake science-based conservation, respect First Nations’ rights and support local communities. While our campaigns have led some groups to reform their practices, Resolute has responded by suing its critics – including, in one case, its own auditor.
  • Are Resolute’s accusations against Greenpeace true?

    The allegations made by Resolute against Greenpeace Canada, US Greenpeace entities, and Greenpeace International are absolutely false and without merit. As SLAPP lawsuits, their intention is not to advance meritorious claims but to censor Greenpeace’s criticism of Resolute’s forest practices.

    As with other advocacy groups, one of Greenpeace’s roles in civil society is often to act as a watchdog that holds corporations and governments accountable for the social or environmental consequences of their actions. It is this function that Resolute’s lawsuits aim to shut down. These cases are not only about Resolute, therefore, but also about protecting the ability of all advocacy groups to operate in the public interest without fear of legal action.

  • What is a SLAPP suit? Do the Resolute lawsuits fit the criteria for SLAPP suits?

    A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit filed as a means of shutting down speech and scrutiny on matters of public interest. Such lawsuits have been restricted in many jurisdictions under anti-SLAPP legislation on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech. Despite this they are increasingly, and with alarming frequency, being used by companies as a means of silencing their critics.

    SLAPP lawsuits tend to be baseless but their purpose is generally not to win on the merits: rather, they intend to “win” by exhausting time and money through the litigation process, intimidating critics (particularly those named individually as defendants), and forcing those critics to abandon their criticism. Against these criteria, the Resolute lawsuits are textbook SLAPP suits: they are excessively long, contain numerous counts, and target individual staff members (as well as the organizations themselves) for exercising their right to speak out on issues of great public concern.

    Resolute’s lawyers in the United States are certainly well qualified to lead efforts to shut down critical speech. One of their better-known clients is Donald Trump, on behalf of whom they sent a threatening letter to the New York Times in a transparent attempt to silence his sexual abuse accusers. The response by the NYT’s in-house counsel has since gone viral.

  • Why is a company with its headquarters in Canada suing Greenpeace in the US?

    Resolute Forest Products is suing US Greenpeace entities, Greenpeace International and Stand.earth using a racketeering law (namely the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO) available only in the US and intended for criminal enterprises. Through RICO, the company is asking for higher financial penalties (treble damages and attorney fees) and trying to discourage Greenpeace and our allies from campaigning globally on this issue.

    That a company headquartered in Canada is suing Greenpeace in the US reflects the nature of this lawsuit as a SLAPP (see above): the intention is not so much about winning the lawsuit, but rather to intimidate us and other advocacy groups into silence, and RICO – with its criminal connotations and treble damages - provides a powerful means with which to try to do that.

  • What are others saying about these lawsuits?

    Over 100 independent non-profit and media organizations have spoken out against Resolute’s RICO lawsuit and the “dangerous precedent” it could set.

    On 15 September 2016 the Sierra Club submitted an Amicus Curiae brief in the US RICO case, along with eight other environmental organizations, in which it described how “the conduct being labeled as racketeering crimes consists entirely of nonviolent, non-commercial speech about topics of public interest” and that allowing the claim would “endanger the ability of non-profits to operate and set a dangerous precedent.”

    The organizations argue that “permitting the RICO statute to be used as a club to silence legitimate speech and expression is contrary to long-established protections afforded public interest advocacy.”

    Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and eleven media organizations signed onto a second Amicus brief supporting Greenpeace’s motion to dismiss, which states: “This case is about the exercise of fundamental speech rights. Protecting Greenpeace’s freedom of expression… will ensure that speakers, including members of the news media, can exercise their constitutional rights without fear of unjustified reprisals.”

    “In this case, a corporation engaged in controversial activities of great public interest attempts to stifle the speech of an organization that has criticized and questioned its environmental record. Although framed as several different causes of action, the claims share a central purpose – silencing speech on matters of public concern.”

    In November, 80 organizations signed onto an advertisement in the New York Times, including Friends of the Earth, 350.org, and the David Suzuki Foundation, which condemns Resolute’s RICO lawsuit.

    “Attempting to persuade U.S. courts to label environmental advocacy as a criminal enterprise sets a dangerous precedent. It not only undermines efforts to protect the Boreal forest… it also threatens the basic right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

    In a recent court ruling for the Canadian lawsuit, a panel of judges with the Ontario Superior Court ruled: “Resolute alleges... that Greenpeace has a strategy of distorting the truth and ‘sensationalizing’ the evidence in order to appeal to its donor base. There is not a single example pleaded of the defendant Greenpeace doing such a thing. As an allegation of past bad conduct, this is a pleading of presumptively inadmissible similar fact evidence. As an allegation of malice, it is so devoid of particularity as to be scandalous and vexatious.”
  • How has Stand.earth responded to Resolute's lawsuit against them?

    Stand.earth has vowed that "No amount of intimidation tactics or bullying is going to make us stop telling the truth about Resolute or any other company that destroys forests." Find out more on Stand.earth’s website here and here, and in their blog in the Huffington Post.

  • What is Greenpeace asking for?

    Greenpeace is asking Resolute, and all companies operating in the Boreal forest, to operate in a way that respects the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of First Nations, recognizes Indigenous governance authority, commits to conservation outcomes consistent with the best available science and Indigenous knowledge, recovers the FSC certifications that have been withdrawn or suspended -- including the protection of Intact Forest Landscapes -- and brings an end to Resolute’s lawsuits.