Greenpeace and Stand.earth Ask Federal Court to Dismiss Controversial Lawsuit Against Free Speech

© George Nikitin / Greenpeace

SAN FRANCISCO, October 10, 2017 — The United States District Court for the Northern District of California held a hearing today on the controversial racketeering case [1] filed by logging company Resolute Forest Products to silence forest defenders and environmental organizations Greenpeace and Stand.earth. The defendants and other stakeholders had drawn attention to the company’s unsustainable practices in the Canadian boreal forest.

“The decision on this landmark case will have enormous implications for free speech as we know it. Resolute was the first company to target advocacy using the devious playbook [2] developed by Trump’s go-to law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres — but others like the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline are already rushing to follow [3]. The abuse of our legal system by corporate bullies aiming to silence free speech on legitimate issues of public concern is growing and it must be stopped in its tracks,” said Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace, Inc. and Greenpeace Fund, Inc.

This hearing on the CAD$300 million case was requested by the defendants, who seek the lawsuit’s dismissal for failure to state valid legal claims, as well as under California’s Anti-SLAPP statute. A strategic lawsuit against public participation (or SLAPP) is a well-known, underhanded legal attack against free speech, intended to intimidate critics through baseless, expensive, and time consuming litigation.

“This case is about nothing less than the future of free speech and citizen advocacy on one side, and unfettered corporate power and the ability to sue critics into silence on the other. We are confident that after careful examination of the arguments laid down today, the judge will reach the conclusion that the activities conducted by the defendants are legitimate advocacy to protect the boreal forest, not criminal conduct,” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director of Stand.earth.

District Judge Jon S. Tigar is expected to make a decision on whether to dismiss or proceed with the multimillion dollar case in the following weeks.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

[1] On May 31, 2016 Resolute Forest Products filed a CAD$300 million lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in the United States District Court for Southern Georgia, against Greenpeace International, Greenpeace, Inc., Greenpeace Fund, Inc., Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics), and five individual staff members of these independent organizations. The case was transferred to Northern California on May 16, 2017 when Resolute failed to demonstrate that the case should be heard in Georgia.

This is Resolute’s second lawsuit against Greenpeace. In 2013, the company filed a CAD$7 million defamation case against Greenpeace Canada and two staff members in Ontario, which is still pending. Click here for more information about the existing legal cases between Resolute Forest Products and defendants, or copy this to your browser: http://www.greenpeace.org/resolutelawsuits/

[2] Bloomberg reported that: “Michael Bowe, the Kasowitz partner handling the RICO cases, says he’s in touch with other companies thinking of filing their own racketeering suits. “When Greenpeace directly attacks a company’s customers, financing, and business, that company has little choice but to legally defend itself,” Bowe asserts. “I know others who are considering having to do so, and would be shocked if there are not many more.”” Click here to read the full article, or copy this link to your browser: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-28/how-a-corporate-assault-on-greenpeace-is-spreading

[3] On August 22, 2017 Energy Transfer Partners filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit under under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Click here for more information about the existing legal cases between Resolute Forest Products and defendants, or copy this to your browser: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/global-warming/greenpeace-v-energy-transfer-partners-facts/

[4] Defendants and representatives of the organizations conducted a Facebook Live transmission before the hearing. Click here to go to that video, or copy the following link to your browser: https://www.facebook.com/greenpeace.international/videos/10155370767803300/

[5] Photographic material taken outside of the courthouse will be available in the next few hours. Click here to access the media library, or copy the following link to your browser: http://media.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MZIFJXZXPTY.

Media contacts:

Rodrigo Estrada, rodrigo.estrada@greenpeace.org, 202-344-9292

Virginia Cleaveland, virginia@stand.earth, 510-858-9902

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