EF! Fined $1million in Idaho
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
> 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
> 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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