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Federal Judge Requested to Dismiss Standing Rock Suit by Greenpeace

by Rodrigo Estrada

September 5, 2018

Greenpeace filed motions to dismiss the amended complaint brought by Energy Transfer Partners in the baseless USD$900 million suit against  organizations, movements, and individuals that opposed the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline at the Standing Rock reservation.

United States Federal Judge Billy Roy Wilson ordered Energy Transfer Partners to file an amended version of its original complaint or face dismissal earlier this summer because the pipeline company had failed to plead “simple, concise and direct” allegations. Despite this order, Energy Transfer Partners filed an amended complaint adding five individual defendants and broadening its claims to include protests at other pipelines in Louisiana and Pennsylvania.

Greenpeace USA General Counsel Tom Wetterer said:

“Energy Transfer is effectively thumbing its nose at the court’s order to correct the many deficiencies in this baseless multimillion dollar suit. Rather than simplifying them, the amended complaint expands the company’s rambling, vague, and nonsensical claims. Adding even more accusations against protests of its other controversial pipelines in Louisiana and Pennsylvania only shows that Energy Transfer’s true intent is to silence any opposition.”

Publicly disagreeing with a corporation, especially a documented environmental and human rights offender like Energy Transfer, is not a crime. Free speech and free association are consecrated in the First Amendment and that’s what we are fighting for here: people’s rights to speak up to power.”

The same judge already dismissed BankTrack and Earth First! from the case, leaving Greenpeace and the five individuals as the only defendants in the pending case.

The case put forward by Energy Transfer Partners is a textbook strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), that rests on meritless legal claims to punish advocacy and activism. These motions to dismiss coincide with the launch of the “Protect the Protest” task force in the United States, with simultaneous events in New York, San Francisco and Dallas. “Protect the Protest” brings together more than 20 organizations across different sectors, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Greenpeace, and Human Rights Watch, to campaign against corporations and people in positions of power who try to use SLAPPs to limit free speech and silence critics.

Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said about the new task force:

“Bogus lawsuits like the ones filed by Energy Transfer Partners and Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace and others have brought different movements together to defend basic human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of association.”

‘Protect the Protest’ is the result of our shared determination to work together to provide legal, communications and strategic support to people and groups across the country who are sued for political dissent, criticizing egregious corporate practices, or simply speaking up for the good of our communities and planet. Today, we are turning the volume up.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors: 

[1] Click here for more information about Energy Transfer Partners’ case or copy the following link to your browser: https://www.greenpeace.org/defendingprotest

[2] Click here to access the Amended Complaint filed by Energy Transfer Partners on August 6, 2018 or copy the following link to your browser: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ec7208cc-20180806-etp-amended-complaint.pdf

[3] Click here to access the Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants Greenpeace International, Greenpeace, Inc. and Charles Brown on September 4, 2018 or copy the following link to your browser: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/20180904-0103-1-GP-MEMO-MTD-AMENDED-COMPLAINT.pdf

[4] Click here to access the Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant Greenpeace Fund, Inc.on September 4, 2018 or copy the following link to your browser: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/20180904-0102-GP-FUND-MTD-AMENDED-COMPLAINT.pdf

[5] Greenpeace USA’s report, “Too Far, Too Often: Energy Transfer Partners’ Corporate Behavior On Human Rights, Free Speech, and the Environment”, published on July 28, 2018 can be found here or if you copy the following link to your browser: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/reports/too-far-too-often/ 

[6] Click here for more information about “Protect the Protest,” or copy the following link to your browser: https://www.protecttheprotest.org/

[7] Click here for details on the “Protect the Protest” events in New York, San Francisco and Dallas, or copy the following link to your browser: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ProtectTheProtest/events/

Media contact:

Rodrigo Estrada, [email protected], +1 202 344 9292

Rodrigo Estrada

By Rodrigo Estrada

Rodrigo Estrada is an expert on legal communication. He is the global communications manager of the climate justice and liability project. Currently at Greenpeace Canada, Rodrigo has appeared in a wide range of international outlets such as CNN, Bloomberg, Vice, and many more.

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