A Washington federal judge dismissed Greenpeace Inc.'s racketeering lawsuit against two major chemical companies in early September, but Greenpeace wants another shot in a local court.
The environmental advocacy group filed a new version of its lawsuit (PDF) against Dow Chemical Company and Sasol North American Inc. - minus the federal racketeering claims that got the case dismissed during the first go-around - on Friday in District of Columbia Superior Court.
Greenpeace has accused Dow and Sasol of working with their respective public relations firms to organize and carry out a secret spying campaign against the group more than 10 years ago. Greenpeace first filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in April, lodging claims under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The alleged conspiracy included hiring private security agents to carry out illegal surveillance, infiltrating Greenpeace offices and stealing confidential data. Greenpeace claimed that the espionage was in response to the group’s negative public outreach campaigns against the chemical companies.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer dismissed the case in September, finding that Greenpeace had failed to lay out allegations that met the standard for a RICO claim.
Greenpeace senior investigator Mark Floegel said in a phone interview Monday that the group decided to refile because they felt Collyer’s ruling “really didn’t address the facts of the case.” Greenpeace is sticking with its original legal team from Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Relman, Dane & Colfax.
Dow, in a statement, said that the company “continues to believe this case totally lacks merit and should have never been filed by Greenpeace.” The company is also keeping its original legal team from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, according to a spokesman.
Representatives for Sasol and the two public relations firms named in the lawsuit, Ketchum, Inc., and Dezenhall Resources Ltd., did not immediately return requests for comment on Monday. They did not have counsel listed in Superior Court records.
Although the alleged spying took place in the late 1990s, Greenpeace claims that they had no idea until Mother Jones magazine ran an article in 2008 laying out the claims. The new complaint repeats the same theory as the original complaint – that the private security agents hired by the chemical companies and their PR firms stole confidential information on Greenpeace’s advocacy campaign plans, donor records, financial reports and personnel files.
The complaint alleges five counts of trespassing, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion and invasion of privacy.