WASHINGTON: Greenpeace's lawsuit against Ketchum, Dezenhall Resources, Beckett Brown International, and others will continue after a judge denied the defendants' request to dismiss all civil charges of corporate espionage.
Of the six claims made by Greenpeace, four were dismissed this week by Washington DC Superior Court Judge Michael Rankin. The charges involved electronic surveillance and invasion of privacy.
However, a charge of trespassing can proceed. “The court finds, again, that the level of detail given is sufficient to propel the claim across the line of plausibility,” the ruling stated. “The court has determined that the plaintiff may proceed on a theory of trespass by physical intrusion.”
The judge also upheld a claim of misappropriation of trade secrets, noting that Greenpeace “has pleaded the existence of a trade secret sufficiently to survive the motions to dismiss.”
All parties are set to appear in court for a schedule conference on March 29.
“We still have no reason to believe Ketchum was involved in the alleged activities. If necessary, we'll address the remaining claims at a later point in the legal process,” a representative from Ketchum said.
A lawsuit with similar allegations filed by Greenpeace in 2010 with the US District Court for the District of Columbia was dismissed in September 2011. However, Greenpeace re-filed a month later, claiming that the previous version of the suit was dismissed on “procedural grounds” and “never got around to addressing the merits of the case.”
“This case stems from the revelation in 2008 by reporter Jim Ridgeway, writing for Mother Jones magazine, that Beckett Brown International had been hired by the PR firms on behalf of the corporations in the late 1990s to spy on Greenpeace,” Greenpeace said in a statement. “The corporations, PR firms, and individual defendants were attempting to thwart Greenpeace's efforts to protect low-income, fence-line communities near chemical plants in Louisiana from dioxin and other persistent pollutants.”
This story was updated on February 8 with comment from Greenpeace.