Green Groups: Suits to Silence Them on the Rise

A new article from Peter Hayes at Bloomberg's Toxic Laws Reporter examines the rise of SLAPPs against environmental organizations and activists.

If you drive west for half an hour from Selma, Alabama, you come to Uniontown, a predominantly African American community of 2,000 people.

When the county began to consider allowing construction of a landfill in Uniontown, a group of residents organized to fight it—a battle they lost.

But the war wasn’t over when the Arrowhead Landfill began operating in 2007 and further escalated after coal ash from a Tennessee spill was sent to the site two years later.

On its Facebook page, the residents’ group alleged that toxic material from coal ash at the landfill was “leaking into creeks and contaminating the environment,” and that the operators, Green Group Holdings and Howling Coyote, “may have committed illegal trespass and desecration of an adjacent black cemetery.”

After failing to obtain a retraction of several comments, the landfill operators filed a $30 million suit against four members of the organization for libel and slander.

The residents asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing it was “a classic example of what has become known as a `strategic lawsuit against public participation,’ or SLAPP suit,” designed to silence free speech through intimidation.

Read the full article here.