Judge tosses Dakota Access Pipeline's suit against protesters

By Doug G. Ware  |  May 19, 2017 at 1:36 PM
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May 19 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a civil lawsuit by the owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline against several activists who opposed the project.

Dakota Access LLC argued in their suit that members of the Standing Rock tribe and other protesters interfered with the pipeline's construction, endangered the safety of its workers and cost the company more than $75,000 with their weekslong demonstrations.

North Dakota-based U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland disagreed that five of the defendants -- which included Standing Rock Indian Reservation tribal chairman Dave Archambault -- caused fiscal disruptions that exceeded $75,000, which is the minimum limit required for federal civil cases.

The judge said the court did not have jurisdiction over the case.

"Dakota Access cannot aggregate the alleged harm from all pipeline protesters in calculating the value of an injunction against individuals acting independently," Hovland wrote.

Attorneys for the defendants agreed.

"I don't think the jurisdiction was a close call," defense lawyer Tim Purdon said.

An attorney for Dakota Access declined to comment.

President Donald Trump's administration signed off earlier this year on completion of the pipeline, which had been halted for several months by former President Barack Obama over environmental concerns.

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