Federal Judge Dismisses Billion-Dollar Racketeering Lawsuit Filed by Dakota Access Pipeline Developer

Federal Judge Dismisses Billion-Dollar Racketeering Lawsuit Filed by Dakota Access Pipeline Developer

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a $1 billion racketeering lawsuit that the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline filed against environmental groups and activists, saying he found no evidence of a coordinated criminal enterprise.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners sued Greenpeace, BankTrack and Earth First in August 2017, alleging the groups worked to undermine the $3.8 billion pipeline that’s now shipping oil from North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

The company’s accusations included interfering with its business, facilitating crimes and acts of terrorism, inciting violence, targeting financial institutions that backed the project and violating defamation and racketeering laws. The groups maintained the lawsuit was an attack on free speech.

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson last year dismissed Earth First and BankTrack as defendants, saying ETP had failed to make a case that Earth First is a structured entity that can be sued and that BankTrack’s actions in imploring banks not to fund the pipeline did not amount to radical ecoterrorism.

Wilson on Thursday granted motions to dismiss from Greenpeace and individually-named defendants that the company added to the lawsuit last August.

The judge said ETP’s claim failed to establish several necessary elements required by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, including that the defendants worked together on a criminal enterprise.