Federal court agrees logging giant Resolute can't bully nonprofit advocates again

Federal court agrees logging giant Resolute can't bully nonprofit advocates again

Tuesday January 26, 2021

California district court grants Greenpeace Fund, Stand.earth request to quash Resolute Forest Products effort to access documents

Oakland, CA — Last Thursday, January 21, United States Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore of the United States District Court, Northern District of California, granted nonprofit defendants Stand.earth and Greenpeace Fund's requests to quash Resolute Forest Products’ aggressive efforts to access documents in its continued efforts to intimidate climate advocates. In an even greater blow to the logging giant, the Judge awarded Greenpeace Fund sanctions against Resolute for its “bad faith” attempt to relitigate issues already decided in the case. 

Resolute's craven attack on non-profit environmental advocacy organizations and several of their employees is a classic SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) and clear effort to intimidate critics of deforestation for profit.

“Resolute loses again, and again, and again. I look forward to defeating their next effort to use litigation to try to silence those who criticize the company’s widespread clearcutting of caribou habitat in the boreal forest,” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director of Stand.earth.

“CLDC is glad to see this step forward to stop Resolute's corporate bullying tactics. We are heartened that Courts across the nation are starting to acknowledge that SLAPP suits are an abuse of our judicial system,” said Lauren Regan, CLDC Executive Director and Senior Staff Attorney.

“It's time for Resolute to take the recent discovery decisions against it seriously. Not only was the company sanctioned for engaging in a fishing expedition, but the Judge explicitly kept open the possibility of further sanctions if it continues down this path. Last week's decision once again shows that abusing the legal system to silence dissent will not succeed,” said Deepa Padmanabha, Greenpeace Fund Deputy General Counsel.

BACKGROUND

Following a series of revelations on its unsustainable forestry practices, Resolute filed a CAD$7 million dollar lawsuit in Ontario against Greenpeace Canada and two staff members in May 2013 for defamation and economic interference. 

On May 31, 2016 Resolute Forest Products filed a CAD$300 million lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and other claims 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 the Northern District of California on May 16, 2017 when Resolute failed to demonstrate that the case had sufficient ties to Georgia. On October 16, 2017 the U.S. District Court for Northern California dismissed all of the logging company’s claims with leave to amend. Exactly three weeks later, Resolute’s lawyers filed a repackaged version of the same meritless claims in the same court.

This baseless racketeering case is Resolute’s second Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) aiming to silence advocates protecting the Boreal forest. 

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Media contacts: 
Lauren Regan, Executive Director and Senior Staff Attorney, Civil Liberties Defense Center, (541) 687-9180 or info@cldc.org
Valentina Stackl, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA and Protect the Protest, (734) 276 6260 vstackl@greenpeace.org 

Civil Liberties Defense Center supports movements that seek to dismantle the political and economic structures at the root of social inequality and environmental destruction.

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Protect the Protest is a campaign to erase the threat that SLAPP lawsuits pose to free speech and the ability of nonprofit organizations to advocate for a better world. Our organizations work on different issues, but we are all threatened by these shameless tactics. Together, we will protect our right to speak out, to criticize, to engage, and to protest. 

Stand.earth is an international nonprofit environmental organization with offices in Canada and the United States that is known for its groundbreaking research and successful corporate and citizen engagement campaigns to create new policies and industry standards in protecting forests, advocating the rights of Indigenous peoples, and protecting the climate.