EF! Fined $1million in Idaho

Mike Asher masher at tusc.net
Fri Nov 8 16:29:33 EST 1996

First good news I've had all day.

Mark Westlund <ranmedia at ran.org> wrote:
>  November 8, 1996
>           Environmentalists Ordered to Pay $1 Million in Idaho
>           [B] OISE, Idaho -- A state court jury has ordered 12
>               members of the environmental group Earth First! to
>           pay $1.15 million in damages to a contractor for damaged
>           equipment and work delays as the result of protests in
>           the virgin forests of northern Idaho.
>           The jury of eight women and four men awarded the
>           plaintiff, Highland Enterprises of Grangeville, Idaho,
>           about $150,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in
>           punitive damages in the civil case. The verdict was
>           reached last week in a district court in Grangeville,
>           about 250 north of Boise, in Idaho County.
>           The defendants will be required to share the cost of the
>           punitive damages by paying $83,333 each, court officials
>           said, while compensatory damages were spread among the
>           defendants in different amounts.
>           Bernard Zahela, a Boise lawyer who represented 11 of the
>           12 defendants, said he would file a motion for a new
>           trial.
>           Leslie Hemstreet, 31, co-editor of The Earth First!
>           Journal in Eugene, Ore., said of the decision: "The
>           magnitude is so huge I can't even conceive of it. But
>           you can't squeeze blood out of a bee."
>           Don Blewett, owner of Highland Enterprises, said he
>           expected to see some payment over time because the
>           jury's award -- if upheld -- would remain in effect for
>           the defendants' lifetimes.
>           "If their Great-Aunt Matilda buys a Volkswagen van and
>           she dies and gives it to one of them, that baby's mine,"
>           Blewett said.
>           Highland filed the lawsuit in late 1993 after three
>           pieces of heavy equipment sustained total damages put at
>           $20,000 by the company. Blewett sought $197,000 from
>           each defendant for equipment damage and a monthlong
>           delay caused by protests. He also sought $1 million each
>           in punitive damages.
>           Karen Pickett, 46, of Canyon, Calif., a defendant in the
>           case and a long-time Earth First! organizer, said the
>           lawsuit was not about collecting money.
>           "There's no doubt that this sort of thing has a chilling
>           effect," Ms. Pickett said. "The idea is to use the
>           lawsuit to intimidate and discourage people from
>           protesting."
>           Similar lawsuits have been filed by timber interests
>           against Earth First! protesters for damage to equipment
>           or work delays at logging sites in southern Oregon,
>           northern California and British Columbia, Canada.
>           But Ms. Pickett said her group's protests in the
>           78,000-acre Cove-Mallard primitive area in the Nez Perce
>           National Forest in northern Idaho would continue "as
>           long as they're roading and logging in the wilderness."
>           "This is the biggest roadless area in the lower 48," she
>           said. "We're there for the long term."
>                  Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company
>          ----------------------------------------------------------

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