Federal Court Throws Out Controversial Free Speech Lawsuit Against Stand.earth

Federal Court Throws Out Controversial Free Speech Lawsuit Against Stand.earth

Monday October 16, 2017

Today, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a decision dismissing the controversial free speech case brought against Stand.earth, Greenpeace and individual defendants by Resolute

SAN FRANCISCO — Today, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a decision dismissing the controversial free speech case brought against Stand.earth, Greenpeace and individual defendants by Canadian logging company Resolute Forest Products under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act.

Read the decision.

The decision sets a precedent that activities conducted by the defendants to draw attention to Resolute’s unsustainable clearcutting in the Canadian boreal forest are legitimate advocacy protected by the First Amendment. The judge’s decision sends a clear message that unfettered corporate attacks on free speech will not stand up in court.

Stand.earth Executive Director Todd Paglia said in response to the decision:

"The judge’s decision to dismiss this case shows that CEO Richard Garneau’s big accomplishment in this quixotic lawsuit was to spend millions of dollars, alienate and lose many of its customers, become well known for attacking the cherished First Amendment, and ride Resolute’s share price into the ground — all while demonstrating that activism is vitally important to forest protection. Thank you Mr. Garneau!

The case brought by Resolute had so little merit that the judge ruled as a matter of law that it was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) for the state law claims — which were the majority of the case involving claims 4-11 — and that Resolute would be forced for all of those claims to pay attorneys fees for Stand.earth and Greenpeace. This is a massive rebuke to Resolute, who has likely already spent millions of dollars attempting to silence its biggest critics.

BACKGROUND

Filed by logging company Resolute Forest Products in May 2016, the CAD$300 million case is calling for individual activists and independent environmental organizations like Greenpeace USA and Stand.earth, to be labeled a “criminal enterprise” under anti-racketeering (RICO) laws originally created to prosecute the mafia.

Greenpeace and Stand.earth argued the claims are part of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), intended to silence critics of Resolute’s unsustainable logging practices in Canada’s boreal forest.

The law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP is representing Resolute in the case. In August 2017, the same law firm filed another racketeering lawsuit against Greenpeace, this time representing Energy Transfer Partners — the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP is also President Donald Trump’s go-to law firm.

— Contact Virginia Cleaveland, virginia@stand.earth, 510-858-9902