FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Water Protector Legal Collective For more information contact:
WPLC Attorney Rachel Lederman, [email protected], 415-982-9300
WPLC Media Coordinator Jessica Beheler, [email protected], 701-595-1509
DAPL SLAPP SUIT AGAINST WATER PROTECTORS DISMISSED
May 18, 2017– The United States District Court dismissed pipeline consortium Dakota Access, LLC (DAPL)’s lawsuit against Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II, Councilman Dana Yellowfat, and a number of water protectors. The SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit was an effort by DAPL to prevent water protectors from effectively protesting near the pipeline and to make them pay damages to DAPL for past protests.
Federal judge Daniel Hovland granted DAPL a temporary injunction on August 16, 2016 against Chairman Archambault and others before they were given an opportunity to respond. The injunction would have meant Archambault and the other named Defendants would have risked Contempt of Court if they demonstrated or engaged in religious expression near the pipeline path. The Water Protector Legal Collective civil team, led by attorney Rachel Lederman, represented Defendants Dawn Wolf Necklace and Clifton Verle Hollow in opposing the SLAPP suit and injunction.
On September 16, 2016 Judge Hovland granted the water protectors’ motion to dissolve the injunction (link below). In today’s order (link below), Judge Hovland denied DAPL the right to proceed for damages against the tribal officials and water protectors and dismissed DAPL’s lawsuit. The court found that DAPL could not prove that any of the defendants had caused $75,000 in damages as they had claimed, and thus, the federal court had no jurisdiction.
As resistance to oil pipelines spreads across the country, today’s ruling is a victory for the right to protest pipeline construction and will also make it more difficult for pipeline companies to threaten or extract monetary damages against protesters.
If you are a Water Protector and need legal assistance, please call the Water Protector Legal Collective Hotline at (701) 566-9108. If you need travel assistance returning to North Dakota, contact the Freshet Collective at (605) 519-8180.
The Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) provides on-the-ground legal representation and coordination for Water Protectors engaged in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, ND in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). To support the work of WPLC, please visit https://fundrazr.com/RedOwlLegal