North Dakota Notches Court Win in Case on DAPL Protests’ Damages

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) denied a United States case management motion following a ruling by North Dakota District Court Judge Dan Traynor that sought to limit the scope of North Dakota’s claims against the federal government as a result of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests:

“Judge Traynor is right to deny the Justice Department’s motion, which is based on ego rather than facts. The coordinated efforts of several federal agencies to facilitate illegal and often violent activity to shut down a properly cited and permitted pipeline must be exposed. The state of North Dakota does not have to make its case with both hands tied behind its back. From all participating agencies Full access to witnesses and evidence is important and appropriate. This is a hopeful victory in our state’s vigorous fight to ensure that the people of North Dakota are fully reimbursed for the federal government’s negligence. I look forward to seeing what this new avenue of discovery leads to.

The judgment stated, “USACE’s failure to follow the permitting process opened the floodgates for North Dakota to be harmed by the United States, its agencies and third parties. USACE created an accountability mess. It allowed protesters and other frustrated federal agencies to exacerbate the damage and then left North Dakota to clean it up.

“[T]The Court agrees with North Dakota that the United States may use this motion to prevent discovery by other federal agencies involved in the case or to prevent damage to the state of North Dakota. for USACE’s incompetence but for damages that did not occur,” Continued judgment.

Judge Traynor described the failures of the US Army Corps of Engineers during the DAPL protests as “The monstrous federally created mayhem.” He ruled that other federal agencies may have contributed to the damages caused by the state of North Dakota and are related to the ongoing discovery process.

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In October 2021, North Dakota District Court Judge Dan Trainor denied the United States Attorney General’s motion for partial summary judgment. Learn more here.

Last summer, Senator Cramer discussed North Dakota’s DAPL Federal Tort Claims Act litigation in depth in an essay in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy on States’ Rights and Restoring Federalism in Environmental Policy. He noted that there was continued resistance from the federal government to help with clean-up, enforcement and policing costs after the protests. Learn more here.

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