North Dakota Files Claim Against USACE

Denver Greenberg Traurig partner serves as special assistant attorney general for state

The state of North Dakota has filed notice of a federal tort claim against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the USACE’s alleged failure in its duty to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations in 2016 and 2017. The state has claimed more than $38 million in total damages, and a local Greenberg Traurig partner is serving as a special assistant attorney general to the state.

The Standing Rock demonstrations began in August 2016 and by the end of March 2017, the demonstrators had largely disbanded and vacated the encampments. The claim outlines key events that required particularly large amounts of law enforcement manpower and estimates about 1,700 total personnel were involved in the response at some point.

“This just blew [the people of North Dakota] away,” said partner Paul Seby, who serves as counsel to North Dakota, of the confrontational nature of the demonstrations. “That schools went on lockdown, and the state legislature was surrounded by protestors and not able to function for several days. It was just an overwhelming and really culturally shocking thing for them to see these protest camps where the vast majority of people who were in the camps were not from North Dakota.”

According to the claim, law enforcement made 761 arrests during the course of the demonstrations, and only 51 of those individuals lived in North Dakota.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the July 30, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.