Federal Judge Dismisses SLAPP Suit Against BankTrack, Orders More Specific Complaint Against Greenpeace

Billy Roy Wilson, the 79-year old senior judge of the federal District Court for Eastern Arkansas, dismissed a SLAPP suit last week that was filed by Energy Transfer Partners a year ago that attempted to hold BankTrack, a Dutch environmental group, legally responsible for disrupting the progress of the Dakota Access pipeline.

t’s hard to remember when hundreds of people assembled on tribal lands at Standing Rock in North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. ETP and the state of North Dakota spent millions of dollar to hire goons (think Andrew Carnegie and the Pinkertons here) to harass and arrest the protesters. The company then decided to apply its hardball tactics against those it believed help organize the protests.

The SLAPP Suit

It hired the law firm of Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman to file suit against Greenpeace, BankTrack, and a group calling itself Earth First. In the complaint, the legal beagles claimed the defendants “cynically planted radical, violent eco-terrorists on the ground amongst the protesters, and directly funded their operations and publicly urged their supporters to do the same.” The complaint then went on to claim the actions of the defendants violated the provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, popularly known as RICO.

That law, passed in 1970, was intended to fight organized crime. Among other things, it provides for triple damages against a defendant. According to Wikipedia, “The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering and allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing, closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who instructed someone else to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually commit the crime personally.”

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