Greenpeace v SLAPPs

by Greenpeace USA

April 20, 2023

Greenpeace is committed to continuing the work of defending the environment and standing up for the rights of citizens to peacefully protest and speak out against the corporate interests that threaten our planet.

Protesters rallying in boats

For seven years, Greenpeace USA has been fighting back against two baseless lawsuits aimed at silencing the organization from speaking out about threats to the environment that endanger our health and safety. Known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), these legal tactics are taken by powerful corporations to shut down criticism from activists, academics, journalists, whistleblowers, and everyday people. Over the past ten years, the fossil fuel industry has used SLAPPs to target more than 150 people and organizations, with 50 such cases being introduced in the last five years alone.

Those who instigate these lawsuits often know they will not win. Instead, the goal is to be as time-consuming and costly as possible to dissuade people from speaking out—and to intimidate anyone who is watching.

Greenpeace SLAPP Cases

Resolute Forest Products

  • 2013: Resolute Forest Products, one of Canada’s largest logging companies, filed a defamation and economic interference case for CAD$7 million against Greenpeace Canada and two of its staff members. This lawsuit came after Greenpeace Canada publicly challenged the business practices of Resolute.
  • May 2016: Resolute filed an additional lawsuit—this time for CAD$100 million (which could be tripled under RICO, making the amount $300 million) — alleging racketeering and other claims in the U.S. against several Greenpeace entities, including Greenpeace USA, Greenpeace Fund and Greenpeace International. By including claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Resolute was attempting to liken environmental advocacy to organized crime.
  • January 2019: The presiding judge dismissed the RICO claims and 294 of the 296 alleged defamatory statements, as well as Greenpeace Fund as a defendant.
  • April 2020: The court awarded Greenpeace entities over $800,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs under California’s anti-SLAPP statute.
  • April 2023: A hearing on the Greenpeace entities’ motion for summary judgment was held on April 20, 2023. On April 23, 2023, the judge issued an order in Greenpeace’s favor, which dismissed the remaining claims against the Greenpeace entities and concluded the case in Greenpeace’s favor.
  • May 2023: Resolute filed a notice of appeal, appealing the April 2023 decision in Greenpeace’s favor to the Ninth Circuit.

Energy Transfer Case

  • August 2017: Energy Transfer (the operators of the Dakota Access Pipeline or DAPL) filed a federal lawsuit in North Dakota alleging that vigorous criticisms and protests of DAPL by Greenpeace USA and other environmental organizations, Indigenous tribes and thousands of individual protestors, were defamatory and violated RICO. Energy Transfer alleged $300 million in damages, which could have been tripled under RICO and thus sought close to $1 billion in damages. Energy Transfer brought the case against several entities and individuals, including Greenpeace USA, Greenpeace Fund and Greenpeace International.
  • February 2019: A federal court dismissed Energy Transfer’s RICO claims against all parties but declined to retain jurisdiction over the remaining state law based claims.
  • February 2019: One week after the federal case was dismissed, Energy Transfer filed a new lawsuit in Morton County, North Dakota state court alleging claims of defamation, tortious interference, and property related claims against the same Greenpeace entities.
  • February 2020: The state court judge denied the Greenpeace entities’ motion to dismiss.
  • July 29, 2024: Trial for the Energy Transfer case against Greenpeace entities commences in Morton County, ND.

How you can help

  • Please let your representatives know that you support anti-SLAPP legislation. If you live in one of the 18 states without anti-SLAPP legislation, let your state representatives know that they should take a stand against corporate bullying.
  • Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support federal anti-SLAPP legislation to protect everyone’s right to free speech.
  • SLAPPs are meant to drain our resources. Please help us continue our defense by donating to Greenpeace USA today. We don’t take money from corporations – all of our funding comes from supporters like you who are committed to a green and peaceful future.
  • Volunteer with Greenpeace USA.
  • If you’re a company, pledge not to engage in this type of legal bullying.
  • Share Greenpeace USA’s messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.
Greenpeace USA

By Greenpeace USA

Greenpeace is a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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