Just under 60,000 people have now signed a petition that demands that the French energy company EDF drop a sinister lawsuit against 21 climate change activists who occupied one of its power plants last year.
It was back in October last year that the activists spent a week up a chimney at EDF’s power station in Nottinghamshire in the UK, highlighting the hypocrisy of Britain’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels, typified by a new generation of gas power plants.
Last month, the activists pleaded guilty to aggravated trespass and now await sentencing. But now EDF has taken out a separate civil lawsuit against them for a staggering £5 million. The move has caused outrage.
Yesterday, two of those protesters appeared on BBC1′s The Big Question show to debate the question “should activists be sued”? “Was it scary?” Ewa Jasiewicz, one of the protesters was asked by the presenter: “Climate change is scarier,” she replied. “Fuel poverty is scarier.”
Another of the activists Danni Paffard then spoke passionately about the lawsuit against them, saying “I think the civil case is awful. I think it is completely wrong that this multinational should be suing protesters. “
Asked what could happen if they lose, she replied “We lose our houses, we lose our change to ever get a house, we lose our savings, we pay a portion of our salary to a big company for the rest of our lives.”
Danni went on to add: “it is not about us – it is about the principle of suing protesters it is about the ability of SLAPP a big fine on you.”
The £5 million would “destroy” the protesters, she said, pointing out in contrast that it was only half a days profits for the company.
SLAPP is the right word her. Last week, Guardian columnist George Monbiot was right to point out that EDF’s legal action is not about money – it is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation – or SLAPP.
Nearly twenty years ago I wrote a book called Green Backlash, which looked at the backlash against environmental activists, including legal intimidation like EDF’s action. I wrote “just as violence is designed to chill people into silence through physical intimidation, so SLAPPs are meant to chill through legal intimidation.”
But, with intimidation comes risks. EDF is rapidly becoming seen as the bully boy of the energy market, which is causing its own intense backlash.
Monbiot argued that EDF has “made the biggest strategic mistake since McDonald’s pursued two impoverished activists – and inflicted more damage on its brand than its critics had ever managed.”
Ben Stewart from Greenpeace said yesterday that EDF was suffering from a “reputational collapse.”
He is not alone in thinking that EDF’s reputation is being shredded. Brendan May, founder of the corporate consultancy Robertsbridge, argues that the lawsuit is “reputational Armageddon and suicide” for EDF. EDF was even now trumping Shell as his ‘PR idiot’ firm of the year.”
May wrote: “It will take EDF a generation to recover from its idiocy if the firm persists with this unprecedented civil claim against the individual protesters. EDF will be the poster child for all that is wrong, not just with energy policy, but with big business. Those of us who work with very large companies day in day out, must speak out.”
We must all speak out. Yesterday Naomi Klein posted on Youtube a video in support: “Our Governments have been negotiating about the climate crisis for 23 years. In that time, global emissions have soared by 54%. Clearly the official, respectable, legal means for dealing with this crisis aren’t working. What used to be radical is now rational.”
Customers are said to be leaving the company in droves. As I said, just under 60,000 people have signed a petition set up by the parents of another protester, Claire Fauset.
The petition reads: Claire “lobbied the government, emailed companies, signed petitions and marched with placards, but nothing changed. So Claire and her friends decided they needed to take more decisive action to get the government and energy companies to change their ways.”
Her parents argue that it “is totally unfair” that EDF are suing their daughter. “It’s heartbreaking to think that Claire and her friends are being punished for putting themselves at risk for the good of humanity,” they argue.
If you think its unfair speak out too. As a first step sign the petition. And then share it will your friends.
It is also now time for those in sports with sponsorship ties to EDF to stand up to the corporate bullying too and to sever all ties with the bully boys too.
Can Satan be held legally responsible for his actions?
Devil Breaks Contract, Man Sues.” Sounds like one of those fictional frivolous lawsuits that tort reform advocates feed journalists, right? Except in 1971 an individual really did bring a lawsuit against Satan—on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated—alleging that, “Satan and his servants [had] placed deliberate obstacles in plaintiff’s path . . . and on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery.” The case was United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan And His Staff (54 F.R.D. 282), heard in the United States District Court for the western district of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Mayo, in his complaint, alleged that “Satan caused [his] downfall,” and “…deprived him of his constitutional rights.” Considering his personal circumstances (he was broke and in prison), Mayo may have been sincere. This also explains why he was seeking to proceed in forma pauperis (asking for a waiver of court fees and appointment of counsel).
Nevertheless, the judge denied Mayo’s request to waive the fees and go forward with the case, stating: “The court has serious doubts that the complaint reveals a cause of action upon which relief can be granted….” In other words, even if Mayo could prove that his civil rights had been infringed, what exactly could the court do about it?
The judge also had a more immediate concern, noting that Mayo “failed to include with his complaint the required . . . instructions for the United States Marshal for directions as to service of process.” Translation: Since the plaintiff was unable to provide Satan’s home or business address there was no way to serve the Prince of Darkness with the lawsuit.
Finally, the court considered whether the suit could be maintained as a class action. Here the judge couldn’t resist disparaging Mayo, concluding, “We cannot now determine if the representative party will fairly protect the interests of the class . . . ” so “. . . we must exercise our discretion to refuse the prayer of plaintiff to proceed.”
Regardless, the Devil would never have allowed this case to proceed to trial, owing to his inability to get a fair and impartial hearing. Upon entering the courtroom and seeing the words “In God We Trust” emblazoned above the judge’s head, Satan might have considered a motion for change of venue. But knowing the Devil’s disposition it’s clear he would have preferred to negotiate a settlement. One imagines him turning to his attorney and whispering the following instruction: “Let’s make a deal.”
Read more: http://failuremag.com/feature/article/devils_advocate/#ixzz2L8sDaNTj
Dear American Taxpayers:
In 2008, you paid for a bailout of A.I.G. totalling $182 billion. Today, we are writing to tell you that we’re thinking of suing you.
When we made this decision, we knew we were in for some rough treatment from the media. We’ve been called everything from soulless bloodsuckers to Satan’s scabrous handmaidens, and worse. At A.I.G., though, we have a different name for ourselves: true American heroes.
You see, by suing the same people who bailed out our asses just five years ago, we are standing up for one of the most precious American rights of all: the right to sue someone who has just saved your life.
Let’s say that you’re trapped in a burning building and a fireman pulls you out to safety. Once you’re out of the fire, though, you notice that the fireman carelessly ripped the lapel of your Armani jacket. Shouldn’t you be able to sue the fireman for the full cost of its replacement?
Or let’s say you’re drowning in the ocean. A lifeguard dives in, pulls you back onto the shore, and administers mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Aren’t you entitled to take appropriate action—i.e., sue him for sexual harassment?
By suing you, we are standing up for the right of every other American who might, through no fault of his own, have his life saved and want to sue the person who saved him for millions of dollars. And that’s why we’re asking for your help today.
Lawsuits aren’t cheap. They require highly paid lawyers, who rack up millions in legal fees, not to mention first-class airfare, hotels, and sumptuous gourmet meals—hardly the kind of expense that we at A.I.G. can afford.
That’s why we’d like you to pay for it.
You may think we’re expecting a lot, asking you for the money necessary for us to sue you. But, remember, there’s a bigger principle at stake, and someday, if you’re pulled from a burning building or an ocean, you’ll be glad you stood with us today.
Oh, and as for our ad campaign, “Thank you, America”? We’re sticking with that, just changing the first word.
See you in court,
Your friends at A.I.G.
Tomorrow: Can you Trust big Business? Practicing the most stark acts of corporate inhumanity -Pharmaceutical Giants
CHILDREN are terrifying things, with their snotty little faces, gurgling traps and little accusatory fists. It is little wonder we treat them with such contempt.
Maria Waltherr-Willard had been teaching French and Spanish at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati since 1976. When the 61-year-old was transferred to the district’s middle school a few year ago, the seventh and eighth-graders she was to teach triggered her paedophobia (that’s a phobia of young children, rather than the other similar word). Her blood pressure went through the roof and she needed to retire in 2010.
And now, the lawsuit states that Waltherr-Willard’s paedophobia is covered by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and that her bosses violated it by transferring her and refusing her a move back to the high school. The high school that presumably didn’t have any children.
School district attorney Gary Winters claimed that Waltherr-Willard simply “wants money,” and added: “Let’s keep in mind that our goal here is to provide the best teachers for students and the best academic experience for students, which certainly wasn’t accomplished by her walking out on them in the middle of the year.”
Waltherr-Willard claims she has lost out on at least $100,000, but the damages are not specified in the suit. The suit that is from a teacher who is scared of children.