A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit oil pipeline developer Dakota Access LLC filed against Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault and four other protesters.
According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit – filed last year – sought restraining orders and financial compensation.
The Bismarck Tribune reports that Dakota Access LLC claimed Archambault and his fellow protesters interfered with the pipeline construction. They accuse them of threatening workers and costing the company more than $75,000 per day.
See Archambault discuss his unexpected foray into politics and activism below.
Judge Daniel Hovland reportedly disputed this on the grounds that the company could not prove each of the defendants in its suit was responsible for $75,000+ in daily damages.
“Dakota Access cannot aggregate the alleged harm from all pipeline protesters in calculating the value of an injunction against individuals acting independently,” the judge reportedly wrote.
Because of this, the case was deemed void in federal court.
The Brismarck Tribune goes on to quote Tim Purdon, a lawyer who represented Archambault and another defendant.
Purdon reportedly praised the judge’s decision. He also accused Dakota Access LLC of taking advantage of the court system to obtain a temporary restraining order against the defendants. This, he argues, was against their First Amendment rights because it impeded their ability to protest.
Dakota Access LLC can pursue their suit against Archambault and his fellow protesters in court should they choose.
In other news related to legal action against Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, several protesters traveling to North Dakota for their trials reportedly had their cases dismissed at the last minute.
According to New York Daily News, one such protester, Jeffrey Hush, traveled all the way from Connecticut to face charges of trespassing and engaging in a riot.
When he arrived, however, he reportedly found that his trial had been canceled and the State Attorney’s office was planning on filing new charges at a later date.
The only way for him to escape those charges, he was told, was to take a plea bargain. He refused, insisting his innocence.
This was reportedly the case for several other protesters, three of whom accepted plea deals.
The Standing Rock protests, as The Guardian reports, came to a militaristic end when police forcibly removed protesters from the site earlier this year.
According to the CBC, Sioux tribe members are still holding out hope that they will pursuade a judge to shut down the pipeline.