Resolute Forest Products, Inc. et al v. Greenpeace International et al

Filing 104

ORDER granting 57 Motion to Change Venue; granting 62 Motion to Dismiss. The Clerk is Ordered to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The Clerk is further Ordered to close this case. Signed by Chief Judge J. Randal Hall on 05/16/2017. (thb)

Download PDF
IN THE UNITED FOR THE STATES DISTRICT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF COURT GEORGIA AUGUSTA DIVISION RESOLUTE FOREST PRODUCTS, et al., INC. * Plaintiffs, * v. * GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL CV 116-071 May 2016 * et al., * Defendants. * ORDER Plaintiffs filed their Defendants Since illegally then, Court the criticized have issues. of 24.) in complaint, Plaintiffs' filed over request to alleging that pages transfer practices. of argument, this case to Background the forest-products different types of paper. cities, they forestry 300 They plant and harvest trees and make, several when California. I. are in After a thorough review of the record, Defendants' District Plaintiffs litigation 318-paragraph parties GRANTS the Northern this 124-page, raising various the began (Id.) including Augusta, industry. (Compl. SI among other things, Plaintiffs have locations in Georgia. (Id.) Defendants Greenpeace Inc., International, and ForestEthics organizations. employee of and (Id. Skar Rolf Matthew (Id. SIS! such, Greenpeace, are SIS! 31-34.) ForestEthics, are Daggett 35-39.) an of Defendant they often publicly Daniel of or Todd Inc., Paglia companies an Moas, Defendant International. are environmental activists. assail is Amy and Greenpeace Fund, charitable Brindis, Greenpeace, employee Defendants Greenpeace nonprofit Defendants employees is all Inc., that And as they think are environmentally irresponsible. In 2013, campaign Defendants against campaign, began the Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs "Resolute: (Id. contend, 1 Forest 79.) As Defendants part These Plaintiffs (Id. to lose attacks, according to customers and millions of falsely Plaintiffs of harming the Boreal Forest in Canada. 81-87.) Destroyer7' accused (See id. Plaintiffs, of this dollars in 51 caused revenue. It 17.) In response Plaintiffs filed to the this Resolute: lawsuit, Forest alleging, Destroyer among campaign, other things, federal and state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") set out to claims. Plaintiffs illegally destroy contend Plaintiffs' that Defendants business. have Defendants now move to transfer California.1 this case Under "[o]nly 28 U.S.C. district omissions the rise the [a]nd place, events are for to be claim places considered." (11th Cir. District of part proper of the in where rise the to a events Brick Co. claim have v. or Thus, ^substantial part' Jenkins "a events occurred . . . ." give 2003). is are taken of the Bremer, 321 The venue analysis therefore stronger connections than the minimum-contacts test used evaluating personal with "because flavor its jurisdiction Sept. substantial directly the venue locations hosting a (disagreeing Bell to that of only those 1371 § 1391(b)(2), a events relevant[,] demands Northern Discussion in which giving F.3d 1366, the (Docs. 57, 62.) II. judicial to v. 22, another was analysis Rosen, 2015) CV jurisdiction. court's that of rather 214-127, 2015 ("[T]he venue application a than See ^minimum a WL proper 5595806, analysis under id. of at § 1391(b)(2) contacts' venue at 1372 personal analysis'') ; *4 Section (S.D. Ga. 1391(b)(2) generally requires a greater level of relevant activities by the defendants than the ^minimum contacts' analysis for personal jurisdiction.") . 1 Defendants also move to strike Plaintiffs' complaint under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-11.1 and to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for failure'to state a claim. (Docs. 55, 56, 60, 61, 62.) But because venue is not proper in this district, the Court does not address those arguments. A. Venue is Improper in the Southern District of Georgia Defendants because here. the no argue events that giving venue rise is to improper in district claims Plaintiffs' this occurred Plaintiffs contend that venue is proper here because Resolute: Forest Destroyer campaign caused Plaintiffs lose a number of Georgia-affiliated customers and traveled to Augusta to spread false (2) (1) to Defendants information about Plaintiffs. 1. Plaintiffs' Alleged Loss of Customers in Georgia Plaintiffs associates allege "made that false Defendants and and misleading other Greenpeace statements" Plaintiffs to five Georgia-affiliated companies, causing some of the companies to cut ties with Plaintiffs. (Compl. They Brooks, allege, Greenpeace of for employee, Plaintiffs, statements campaigns The and which Resolute's As that Brooks another example, Home Depot, in-store Defendants customers, 202-206.) with And, a Plaintiffs a customer and misleading the Boreal Forest." Plaintiffs allege that Brooks another (Id. customer, if 1 201.) Kimberly-Clark information nonparty false in demonstrations targeted false "made operations continued to buy from Resolute." that Richard S[f 198-207.) held a conference call with YP, during about (Id. 5 200.) threatened example, about about allege, "with The Home market Depot They also claim and P&G, Plaintiffs. Defendants other (Id. SI ST "prevented Resolute from securing a large contract with one of the world's leading manufacturers (Id. argue Georgia because (1) headquarters headquartered with in that paper, Georgia in in Tucker, Atlanta, Roswell, connection Georgia, Georgia, Pacific . . . ." this district: located in the Northern located in the Middle Defendants' Plaintiffs have failed (3) Tucker, to with of to Depot is communicated the company's supplied paper to Georgia Pacific is based do not Georgia. customers that a allege any Atlanta and Georgia, these establish Home from Roswell, of connected Defendants Plaintiffs District The Plaintiffs District communications (2) and (5) But are the conference call from working (4) Georgia, Georgia. to contacts Georgia, executives P&G's plant in Albany, Atlanta, these YP participated in Kimberly-Clark offices in tissue SI 207. ) Plaintiffs its of are and Albany is even if Thus, are actionable, substantial part of the events giving rise to the claims occurred in this district. 2. Defendants' Plaintiffs Trip to Augusta allege that Daggett, Skar, and Brooks traveled to Augusta and "employed on-the-ground tactics aimed at harming Resolute's relationships with key constituents." (Id. 1 208.) And Plaintiffs cite this trip in support of their RICO claims. Under 18 U.S.C. "unlawful for any § 1962(c), person the relevant RICO statute, employed by or associated it is with any enterprise ... to indirectly, in the a of conduct pattern activity" § 1341, under 18 racketeering among wire U.S.C. enterprise directly other things, 18 1951. § U.S.C. 18 Resolute: through affairs activity . . . ." fraud under contend that Defendants' an participate, conduct of such enterprise's includes, U.S.C. or which § through "Racketeering mail U.S.C. or fraud § 1343, under and 1961(1). 18 extortion Plaintiffs Forest Destroyer campaign was Defendants committed fraud and extortion. "Mail or wire fraud occurs when a person (1) intentionally participates in a scheme to defraud another of money or property and (2) Am. Dental Ass'n v. extortion another, right." fraud Augusta. as violence, and of extortion, these (Compl. SI 208.) F.3d 1283, 1290 quotation marks obtaining of scheme." (11th Cir. omitted). property from induced by wrongful use of actual or or their fear, or under brief addressing Plaintiffs they fail claims. Brooks "the of that color of official § 1951(b)(2). sections But 605 (internal defined force, the and support is in furtherance Cigna Corp., omitted) 18 U.S.C. In or wires with his consent, threatened Skar, the mails (citation 2010) And uses visited cite to explain how According Augusta to to their Defendants' the the claims of trip to events of the complaint, "communicate trip Daggett, falsehoods." Before the trip, Defendants circulated an email declaring Resolute and the to event make inviting Twitter. Augusta protecting people (Id.) stating in to "[f]ive deliver "projected site any on . . . ." information "falsehoods" factual fraud or (Id.) Defendants basis some to about from the extortion before, infer during, and second email trekked to shareholders Nor and however, were do they Defendants after at best, priority" they messages or ask which not, that to Facebook messages," do these the allegations in the complaint, key on company's communicated. to a activists Plaintiffs which event simple the what Forest they circulated a Greenpeace Augusta . . . to "opportunity Boreal support After the trip, that directors the their the provide or what provide a committed trip. Rather, support the inference that Defendants organized and held a protest in Augusta. Thus, Plaintiffs gives have not established that the trip to Augusta rise to a claim for purposes of venue under § 1391(b) (2). 2 Plaintiffs also argue (1) that they felt some of the campaign's effects in this district, and (2) citing Delong Equipment Company v. Washing Mills Abrasive Co., 840 F.2d 843 (11th Cir. 1988), that attendance at a "conspiratorial meeting" is sufficient to establish venue. But that some harm was felt here, without more, does not show that a substantial part of the events giving rise to Plaintiffs' claims occurred in this district. See Rosen, 2015 WL 5595806, at *5 ("The harm to Plaintiffs' reputations in this District, by itself, would likely not be a sufficiently substantial event to establish venue, because the inquiry into relevant events focuses on the actions of Defendants."). And Plaintiffs have not pleaded "conspiratorial meeting" occurred during the May 2015 trip to Augusta. that a B. Venue is Proper in the Northern District of California Defendants ask Northern District the Court to transfer of California under 28 this U.S.C. case to § 1406(a), the which allows a court to transfer a case brought in the wrong district to been any case, district "in which Defendants argue, District of the case, California. it could have brought." could have been brought And although they This in the Northern oppose transferring Plaintiffs do not argue that the Northern District of California is an improper venue. According to Greenpeace, States." Defendants, Inc.'s (Doc. forestry 62-1 St 4. ) Skar and Brindis campaign Indeed, are "integral to efforts Brindis, in Skar, the United and Moas made the majority of the allegedly improper statements that were made in the United Greenpeace, States. Inc.'s Francisco area.3 rise to San Thus, Plaintiffs' And Brindis Francisco and Skar office and both live work in from the San a substantial part of the events giving claims occurred in the Northern District of California. In sum, because Plaintiffs' alleged loss affiliated customers did not occur in this district, Plaintiffs have failed to plead that Defendants' gives rise to any of Plaintiffs' 3 claims, of and because trip to Augusta Plaintiffs have failed Moas lives in Nevada but regularly travels to Greenpeace, Francisco office for work. (Doc. 62-1 14.) Georgia- Inc.'s San to to establish that their improper claims in occurred this GRANTS Defendants' District of a substantial part district in this under the United California. district. giving rise Venue § 1391(b)(2), and is the thus Court California. Conclusion The Court GRANTS Defendants' 57, the events request to transfer this case to the Northern Ill. (Docs. of 62.) The States The Clerk District Clerk is is request to transfer this case. ORDERED Court for to the TRANSFER this Northern further ORDERED to CLOSE ORDER ENTERED at Augusta, Georgia this case to District of this case. /ffi^day of May, 2017. J. RANBAJ/HALLr CHIEF JUDGE UNITEtTSTATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?