Fighting Alpha in Federal Court

Monday, January 2nd, 2012
posted by fern

On August 30th, Eli, Becks, Junior and I were served documents informing us that Alpha was suing. They were demanding, we learned, an injunction that would invoke stiff penalties if we were caught on Marfork property in the future, as well as compensatory and punitive damages–an unspecified amount of money–for the “irreparable damages” that we had caused them economically by interfering with their mining on the Beetree Surface Mine and “depriving Marfork of the exclusive use and possession of the property.”

None of the four of us has the money to spend in court that Alpha does, nor do we have the money to pay Alpha “damages”–but that’s exactly why Alpha is suing us; they want to harass and intimidate us and all others who might be thinking of doing what we did. We recognize that this lawsuit is a SLAPP suit, Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, Alpha’s way of using its political and economic power to make sure that no one will stand up to them again.

But we are not going to roll over and let Alpha get what they want. Three lawyers, Lawrence Hildes, Terry Lodge, and Carter Lloyd have stepped up to help us fight Alpha’s corporate lawyers with brilliant legal strategy. Last October, our lawyers removed our case to Federal Court, where we hope it will be treated more justly than in the industry-appeasing Raleigh County Circuit Court.

Our case needs to remain in federal court because Alpha’s leadership and headquarters are outside of West Virginia, and because parts of the lawsuit threaten our first amendment rights. We are now building our case, and we will probe that our trespass was necessary to prevent a much greater harm than any damage to one corporation’s profits. Alpha is arguing that it is in the best public interest for the court to award them an injunction against us–which of course is ridiculous when they are engaging in a violent act that we know poisons water, causes flooding, and endangers the lives, property, and health of all those who live nearby. While they claim that our “reckless, willful, and wanton” actions, were “undertaken with malice” and that we had “ample opportunity to address their alleged grievances against mountaintop removal mining and mining operations of Marfork without resorting to tortious and criminal conduct,” will will endeavor to demonstrate the necessity of our use of direct action in an area in which legal resistance is constantly put down by the massive economic and political clout of the coal industry. Corporations like Alpha may hold sway over the politicians, the courts, and the regulatory agencies, but they have no power over our consciences, our passion for justice, or our will to fight for it.

**If you or anyone you know may be able to help us build this case and/or would be willing to testify in court, please contact us and we’ll put you in touch with our lawyers. Thank you!**


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