BISMARCK, N. D. – A Phoenix woman who publicly admitted to vandalism along the route of the Dakota Access pipeline in two states ask a judge to dismiss her as a defendant in a $1 billion federal racketeering lawsuit filed by the pipeline developer.
Ruby Montoya was one of the millions of people around the world that collectively have a “common purpose” of the stop of the $3.8 billion pipeline built to move North Dakota oil to Illinois, and Texas-based Energy Transfer ners has failed to show a link between her and a criminal organization, said attorney Lauren Regan with the Civil Liberties Defense Center.
“Advocating for the protection of the climate through a reduction in fossil fuel infrastructure is on its face constitutionally protected, and not a basis for a RICO claim,” Regan wrote in a recent court filing.
ETP sued on the Earth, BankTrack and Greenpeace in August 2017, claimed they worked to undermine the pipeline and the company. A judge later dismissed both on the Earth and BankTrack defendants and criticized the trial for are vague. The company added five people as suspects in August 2018 , including Montoya and Jessica Reznicek.
The two women in July 2017 released a public statement admitted to damage of the valves and setting fire to construction equipment along the pipeline route in Iowa and South Dakota.
Regan notes that none of the women has been criminally charged. She also refutes ETP allegations that Montoya was a spokeswoman for the anti-pipeline group, Mississippi, and was educated in the “eco-terrorist techniques,” by the Earth.
U. S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson ruled last year that FTE had failed to make a case that on the Earth is an entity that can be sued. The Center for Constitutional Rights, had argued that the Earth is a philosophy or a movement similar to Black Lives Matter, and can therefore not be sued.
“Plaintiffs don’t seem to understand is the fact that the Earth is not in an organization, and no “members” ‘regan wrote, maintaining that Mississippi is also an entity with no structure or guidance.
Montoya has no connection with the other defendants in the lawsuit other than Reznicek, who has not yet been served with the lawsuit, Regan wrote.
“Plaintiffs have failed to adequately allege that Montoya, the membership of, or association with plaintiff, paranoid, a farce and manufactured conspiracy theory,” she said.
ETP’s lawsuit under the Racketeer influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act claims that the defendants disseminated false and misleading information about the project and interfered with the construction by means of violent and criminal means, the damage of the reputation of the company and the finance.
Opposition by groups and American Indian tribes, who feared for damage to the environment inspired large protests in the south of North Dakota and resulted in 761 arrests over a six-month span beginning in late 2016. The pipeline has been operational since June 2017.
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