Judge Dismisses Dakota Access Lawsuit Against Protesters

BISMARCK, N.D. (CN) — A federal judge has dismissed Dakota Access’s lawsuit requesting a restraining order and monetary damages against Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and other protesters.

Dakota Access’s original complaint, filed in August 2016, asked the judge to stop Tribal Chairman David Archambault II, Tribal Councilman Dana Yellow Fat, and other protesters from interfering with the construction of the 1,154-mile-long Dakota Access pipeline.

Dakota Access said Archambault and others blocked access to the construction site, erected obstructions to block the site and threatened Dakota Access employees and contractors.

Dakota Access also claimed that the protesters’ actions and threats cost the company over $75,000 per day.

But U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland said Dakota Access never backed that figure up with evidence.

“There is no plausible showing Dakota Access has made to show the alleged losses proximately caused by Chairman Archambault and Councilman Yellow Fat are in excess of $75,000,” he wrote in his Thursday order dismissing the case.

Moreover, he said Dakota Access could not attempt to spread the amount of damages claimed out over multiple defendants.

“Dakota Access cannot aggregate the alleged harm from all pipeline protestors in calculating the value of an injunction against individuals acting independently,” Hovland’s six-page order said. “Further, even if Dakota Access retained a valid claim for an injunction against Chairman Archambault and Councilman Yellow Fat, the costs of their individual compliance with the injunction cannot plausibly be calculated in excess of $75,000.”

Without meeting this monetary threshold, the federal court lacked jurisdiction over the case, Hovland said.

He added that Dakota Access could pursue its claims in state court instead.

Representatives for Dakota Access LLC and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe did not return Friday evening phone calls requesting comment.

 

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