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. First, WPLC is cooperating in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of Water Protectors. To that end…

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.

The November 20 Police Violence Lawsuit

Dundon v. Kirchmeier is a federal civil rights lawsuit 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 all persons who were injured by law enforcement that night.

If you are named in a civil lawsuit in connection with your Water Protector activities in North Dakota during 2016-1207, please call WPLC at 701.566.9108

SLAPP Suits

Separate and apart from Dundon v. Kirchmeier, there have been two SLAPP suits attempted against a number of organizations and individuals, including a handful of Water Protectors, neither of which have succeeded. 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. The suits are often lengthy documents filled with many pages of baseless claims. Their sheer size is meant to induce fear of the formal and often inflammatory language in which they are written, as well as the financial fear of incurring legal bills associated with defending 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. Both SLAPP suits aimed directly or indirectly at NoDAPL Water Protectors have been brought in federal court, and both have been dismissed in full or in part.

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 formally 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 the 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.

A statement from Center for Constitutional Rights on BankTrack’s successful court victory  is here

BankTrack also 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.

The statement from Earth First! is here; and from CCR, who represented Earth First Journal, here.

For analysis by  Greenpeace USA on Energy Transfer’s corporate behavior with respect to the Dakota Access Pipeline, please read their report, “Too Far, Too Often: Energy Transfer Partners’ Corporate Behavior On Human Rights, Free Speech, and the Environment”, published on July 28, 2018 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.

Statement from Deepa Padmanabha, Deputy General Counsel at Greenpeace USA:

Energy Transfer Partners’ decision to throw in even more accusations, like the ones regarding the Bayou Bridge pipeline, and name individual activists as defendants, shows the company’s real intent: to bully any opposition into silence. It is well documented how Energy Transfer Partners’ reckless practices concerning human rights, free speech and the environment go too far, too often across the United States. [2] The company claims there is a criminal conspiracy to stop its pipelines, while in reality Energy Transfer Partners engages mercenary firms like TigerSwan to infiltrate communities and social movements. We believe in peaceful activism and will not be intimidated by this behavior; we have a right to raise our collective voice to protect communities and the planet. We are confident this move to include even more bogus claims in an already broad and baseless case will be the final nail in the coffin of a sham legal tactic.

Read the Amended Complaint filed by Energy Transfer Partners on August 6, 2018 hereWe are watching these developments carefully and invite you to please check back for status updates on the remaining defendants.