Civil Matters


In addition to providing criminal defense services to everyone who was arrested at Standing Rock in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, Water Protector Legal Collective is supporting certain civil matters in several ways:

Backwater Bridge Police Violence Lawsuit

WPLC is cooperating in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of Water Protectors. Dundon v. Kirchmeier is challenging police violence on the night of November 20-21, 2016, at Backwater Bridge, near the Oceti Sakowin camp and the site of the DAPL pipeline in North Dakota. The case was filed on November 28, 2016, in federal court, as a class action lawsuit on behalf of everyone who was injured by law enforcement that night.

We need your information:
  • If you were injured on or near Backwater Bridge on the night of November 20-21, please input your information hereThis form is secure and confidential, for the WPLC civil attorneys only.
  • If you were arrested on October 22, 2016, near the DAPL site, please input your information here. This form is secure and confidential, for the WPLC civil attorneys only.
  • If you were injured by law enforcement on another date, in connection with the water protector camps in North Dakota please input your information here. This form is secure and confidential, for the WPLC civil attorneys only.

SLAPP Suits

SLAPP suits are a scare tactic used by corporations to try and stop protesters who are speaking out in opposition to them. Broadly, they involve suing people for speaking out on matters of public importance. These suits are often lengthy documents filled with many pages of baseless claims. Their sheer size is meant to induce fear through the formal and often inflammatory language in which they are written, as well as the financial implications of incurring legal bills for being forced to defend yourself from such lawsuits.

SLAPP suits are such an unwelcome reality in the legal landscape that a majority of states have passed anti-SLAPP-suit bills meant to ward off these meritless suits. There are also efforts to enact a federal anti-SLAPP statute, but so far Congress has not passed a bill. 

Dakota Access, LLC vs. Dave Archambault III, et.al.

In August 2016, DAPL tried to stop Water Protectors from gathering in proximity to its work site near Highway 1806 by filing a SLAPP suit to enjoin them from “interfering” with the construction of the pipeline. Chief Judge Daniel Hovland dismissed this suit in United States District Court on March 19, 2018, but it had been effectively rendered moot within three months of its filing when he failed to grant an extension to a Temporary Restraining Order barring Water Protectors from the designated construction site. More information about the significance of this legal victory for Water Protectors can be found here

Energy Transfer Partners vs. Greenpeace, et.al.

In September 2017, Energy Transfer Partners attempted a variation on a SLAPP suit by suing Greenpeace, Earth First!, BankTrack and several John and Jane Doe defendants under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

On July 24, 2018, the court dismissed the suit with respect to BankTrack in full. Judge Billy Roy Wilson’s order declared that ETP had failed to state a plausible RICO claim and called its attempted application “dangerously broad.”  It is expected that ETP’s claims against Greenpeace, Earth First! and the unnamed John and Jane Doe defendants will be similarly dismissed. BankTrack published their reaction to Judge Wilson’s dismissal in full

On August 3, 2018, the court blocked ETP from continuing the SLAPP suit  against Earth First!  The court rejected ETP’s allegations as factually unsupported, and blocked their attempt to collect discovery against the Earth First! Journal, a non-party in the suit.  A statement from Earth First! is here; and from CCR, who represented Earth First Journal, here.

On August 6, 2018, in an amended complaint Energy Transfer named five individuals, some of whom were  Water Protectors on the ground in North Dakota.  Read the Amended Complaint filed by Energy Transfer Partners on August 6, 2018 here.

On August 22, 2018, U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson DISMISSED Energy Transfer’s SLAPP suit against Earth First!  Read the Judge Wilson’s Order of Dismissal here.

On September 4, 2018, a Motion to Dismiss was filed by defendants Greenpeace International, Greenpeace, Inc. and Charles Brown. Read the Motion here.  The  Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant Greenpeace Fund, Inc. can be read here.

On February 14, 2019, U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson DISMISSED Energy Transfer’s SLAPP suit against Greenpeace and several named Water Protectors including members of Red Warrior Camp Cody Hall and Krystal Two Bulls. Judge Wilson’s Order specifically states that: “An ‘encampment’ is not an entity subject to suit.”

Greenpeace USA General Counsel Tom Wetterer said in response to the decision:

“Justice has been served. This is a huge victory not just for Greenpeace but for anyone and everyone who has ever stood up against powerful corporate interests. Today’s decision to dismiss Energy Transfer’s baseless lawsuit against Greenpeace and others sends a clear message to companies trying to muzzle civil society that corporate overreach will not be tolerated. It is also a check on corporate efforts to silence dissent.”

Read the Order of Dismissal here.