Judge: Suit over arrest of pipeline protesters can go on

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit by three people who say they were illegally arrested as they protested construction of a major oil pipeline in south Louisiana.

The suit was filed last year by protesters Cynthia Spoon, Sophia Cook-Phillips and Eric Moll, who say they were illegally arrested while in a canoe and kayak on a navigable waterway near the pipeline site in August 2018.

One of the main defendants, Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC, sought to have the suit dismissed, saying the allegations were ambiguous and weren’t specific enough about the role of various defendants in the alleged misconduct. Other defendants include private security company HUB Enterprises and the St. Martin Parish sheriff.

In a ruling dated Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Shelley Dick of Baton Rouge rejected the company’s argument, writing “BBP is fully on notice of the claims asserted against it.”

Dick also rejected an argument that the lawsuit should have specifically identified the company employees alleged to have acted improperly.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys with the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center. Other defendants include more than a dozen sheriff’s deputies and state probation and parole officers who, the lawsuit says, were hired to provide security for the pipeline.

The 162-mile-long (260-kilometer) Bayou Bridge Pipeline began operating in March 2019.

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