On October 7, 2011, Greenpeace filed a lawsuit in Superior Court for the District of Columbia against two major chemical companies, their PR firms and several individuals for activities that amount to corporate espionage. Chemical companies Dow Chemical and Sasol (formerly CONDEA Vista), through the PR firms Dezenhall Resources (Nichols Dezenhall at the time) and Ketchum, hired private investigators from the firm Beckett Brown International (BBI) to spy on Greenpeace from 1998 to 2000.
Go here for a PDF of the complaint
The suit charges the defendants stole thousands of documents, intercepted phone call detail records (CDRs), trespassed and conducted unlawful surveillance and theft of confidential information related to Greenpeace’s public interest work.
The complaint charges that the chemical companies, PR firms and individuals “conspired to and did surveil, infiltrate and steal confidential information with the intention of preempting, blunting or thwarting” Greenpeace’s environmental campaigns.
Read more and view evidence documents
UPDATE (2/5/13): DC Court Rules Greenpeace Can Proceed with Lawsuit Against Dow et al.
In an order issued Tuesday 5 February 2013, Judge Michael Rankin of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia ruled that a corporate espionage case brought by Greenpeace may proceed against Dow Chemical, Sasol North America (an arm of the South African state oil company), the public relations firms Ketchum and Dezenhall Resources and several individuals associated with the now-defunct security firm Beckett Brown International.
Judge Rankin ruled Greenpeace’s claims of trespass to Greenpeace’s Washington, DC office and misappropriation of Greenpeace’s trade secrets could proceed. Four other claims brought by Greenpeace were dismissed by the judge.
This case stems from the revelation – in 2008 by reporter Jim Ridgeway, writing for Mother Jones magazine – that Beckett Brown International had been hired by the PR firms on behalf of the corporations, in the late 1990s to spy on Greenpeace. The corporations, PR firms and individual defendants were attempting to thwart Greenpeace’s efforts to protect low-income fence line communities near chemical plants in Louisiana from dioxin and other persistent pollutants.
Oral arguments in the case were made on 10 May 2012.
Read the court's decision.(PDF)