Canadian Logging Giant Attempts to Silence Critics Using Anti-Mafia Law
May 29, 2017
Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products, Canada's largest logging company, has commenced a highly controversial 300 million dollar lawsuit against two leading environmental organizations, Greenpeace and Stand Earth. The lawsuit has been brought under a US federal statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization's Act, or RICO.
As its name suggests, RICO was enacted in Congress by 1970, with the primary purpose of strengthening criminal and civil penalties against those engaged in organized crime. Among other things, RICO entitles a successful plaintiff to award of triple damages, or three times the amount of damages that the successful plaintiff has actually sustained. Thus, the consequences for defendants who are found liable under RICO can be devastating.
Todd Paglia is the Executive Director of Stand.earth, an environmental advocacy organization that focuses on protecting forests. Todd can be credited with transforming the paper policies of multi-billion-dollar Fortune 500 companies, including Staples, Office Depot, Williams-Sonoma, Dell, Victoria's Secret, 3M and many more. Before joining Stand.earth, Todd was an attorney for Ralph Nader, focusing on consumer protection issues such as environmental purchasing by governmental agencies to spur alternative markets, enforcement of antitrust laws, corporate welfare issues and corporate accountability. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Binghamton University, SUNY, his J.D. from the New England School of Law, and his LL.M. from George Washington University, National Law Center, in Environmental Law and Policy.
Precisely because the consequences can be devastating, those who are sued under RICO have no alternative but to expend prodigious resources in the defense of the RICO suit. When the plaintiff is a wealthy corporation like Resolute Forest Products, and the defendants are not-for-profit environmental organizations, the mere cost of defending the lawsuit can be crippling. A fact of which a company like Resolute Forest Products is undoubtedly aware. RICO requires the plaintiff to show, among other things, that the defendants were engaged in a criminal enterprise. What does Resolute allege the defendants' criminal enterprise to be, in this case? Publicly criticizing the Montreal-based forestry giant's logging practices in Canada's Boreal Forest.
Todd Paglia, Executive Director of Stand.Earth, discusses a $300 million lawsuit brought against his environmental organization and Greenpeace by Resolute Forest Products under the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act