Federal Court to Decide if Landmark Lawsuit Against Advocacy Will Proceed

Federal Court to Decide if Landmark Lawsuit Against Advocacy Will Proceed

Tuesday January 24, 2017

Greenpeace and Stand.earth defendants have filed their final replies on independent motions to dismiss the multi-million dollar lawsuit

Washington, DC -- Greenpeace and Stand.earth defendants have filed their final replies on independent motions to dismiss the multi-million dollar lawsuit filed on May 31, 2016 by logging company Resolute Forest Products (NYSE: RFP) in the United States District Court for Southern Georgia. The court will now decide to either dismiss or limit the scope of the case and whether any of it will proceed. The decision on this case will have enormous implications for free speech and advocacy as we know it.

"We are asking for this meritless lawsuit to be dismissed. Resolute is trying to use intimidation as a distraction from its unsustainable environmental practices in Canada's Boreal forest. This case could set a dangerous precedent in targeting advocacy and public participation when we need them the most. Courts need to stop these corporate tactics to silence criticism in their tracks,” said Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace, Inc. and Greenpeace Fund, Inc.

Resolute is asking for independent environmental organizations Greenpeace International, U.S. Greenpeace entities and Stand.earth to be labeled a criminal enterprise under anti-racketeering (RICO) laws originally created to prosecute the mafia. These organizations consider the claims to be part of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), intended to silence critics of Resolute’s unsustainable logging practices in Canada’s Boreal forest.

“Stand.earth does advocacy work to hold corporations accountable for destroying forests and damaging our climate. This lawsuit is a straightforward attack on free speech, on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, on advocacy groups across the nation, and a bully tactic that few people, other than President Trump, would feel comfortable pursuing,” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director of Stand.earth.

Resolute’s law firm in this case, Kasowitz Benson, is the same one who has been defending President Trump for years in cases ranging from defending Trump University to the recent publication of three pages of his 1995 tax filings by the New York Times. 

Advocacy groups like Stand.earth and Greenpeace have the right to free speech and serve a vital role in speaking out on matters that are of public interest and concern. Over 100 independent organizations have already spoken out against this lawsuit, including the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press and other 11 media companies that filed an amici brief in this case supporting Greenpeace and Stand.earth’s motions to dismiss the suit.

Since Resolute filed this case in Georgia last year, two copycat RICO cases have been filed by other plaintiffs in the United States: one filed against several environmental groups including Greenpeace in Texas by a climate denier, and another in New York against media companies, targeting advocacy about climate change and news stories about the election.

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Notes to editors:

  • On May 31, 2016 Resolute Forest Products filed a $300 million dollar (CAD) lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in the United States District Court for Southern Georgia, against Greenpeace International and U.S. Greenpeace entities, as well as STAND (formerly ForestEthics), and five individual staff members of these independent organizations.
  • This is Resolute’s second lawsuit against Greenpeace. In 2013, the company filed a $7 million dollar (CAD) defamation case against Greenpeace Canada and two staff members in Ontario, which is still pending.
  • For more information and documents about the existing legal cases between Resolute Forest Products and defendants click here or copy this to your browser: http://greenpeace.ca/resolutelawsuits 
Ross Hammond, ross@stand.earth, 415-559- 5082