Asks Federal Court to Dismiss Logging Company’s Intimidation Lawsuit

August 8, 2016
Big Timber

School is back in session across the country – and right now in some classroom somewhere in the US children are being educated not on math, science or history, but briefly, and importantly, on bullying. There has been, at long last, a revolution in our schools around teaching kids how to deal with bullies, what kids should do if they see it happening, steps for teachers to take to stop it from occurring again. It is a gross practice, a thing done out of fear, anger and insecurity, and it is heartening to see progress on this issue in our schools.

Unfortunately, no such instruction exists for CEOs. Since May 31, has been fighting off an intimidation lawsuit filed by Canada’s largest logging company, Resolute Forest Products (NYSE: RFP) (TSX: RFP). Intimidation lawsuits, called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPP” suits), are often filed by large companies against much smaller nonprofits, usually with negligible hope of success on the merits. But with an army of expensive lawyers the goal is to cost the nonprofit so much in time, money and effort that the huge company wins by waging a war of attrition. This is a tactic only a bully would pursue.

Does Resolute fit this description? The company has more revenue in the first twelve hours of the year than does in 365 days. That can buy a lot of lawyers. Resolute wants us to stop criticizing their destructive logging practices in the Boreal Forest, rather than actually changing what they do, how they treat forests, and how they impact the people and wildlife that depend upon these forests.

Resolute’s New York law firm has come up with quite a few outlandish legal theories, including that and Greenpeace operate just like an organized crime syndicate and should be prosecuted under RICO, a set of laws designed to root out organized crime. In other words, a legal theory not very likely to win on substance, but designed it seems to cost a lot of time, money, and effort to defend. Resolute also filed the lawsuit in seemingly the most expensive and least convenient (for us) venue it could find: the Southern District of Georgia where has never had an office, where we have less than 1% of our supporters and revenue and where I have never been. Sounds a lot like a SLAPP suit.

All of which is why today we are filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against us. These early motions are rarely granted, but we believe ours clearly has merit. Resolute won’t easily learn that bullying doesn’t work but losing quickly would be a start. We hope that happens — and not just for ourselves. We need to send a signal to all giant corporations that being a bully doesn’t pay.

In the US, we have a First Amendment to prevent exactly this kind of abuse. If you agree – join us by signing our letter to Resolute CEO Richard Garneau today.