Skip to comments.Judge Confirms $600,000 Libel Award and Finds Fault with Environmentalists
Posted on 03/04/2005 7:03:38 AM PST by madfly
(Tucson) Judge Richard Fields entered formal judgment on March 2, 2005 against the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental activist corporation, and found that they must pay $600,000 in actual and punitive damages to Arizona rancher Jim Chilton and the Chilton Ranch and Cattle Company.
The formal judgment confirmed a Tucson jurys verdict, delivered on January 21, 2005, finding the Center for Biological Diversity guilty of making false, unfair, libelous and defamatory statements against Jim Chilton, a fifth generation Arizona rancher whose pioneering ancestors drove cattle into Arizona in the 1880s.
The jury awarded Chilton $100,000 in actual damages, and $500,000 in punitive damages because the Center for Biological Diversity defamed him and his family business in a two-page press release which included links to 21 photographs posted on the Centers website, from July 2002 until July 2003.
In his ruling, Judge Fields entered a formal judgment declaring that the Center and its employees made false statements in their press release. The judge also found that the press release contained misleading photographs and did not accurately describe the condition of Chiltons 21,500 acre Forest Service grazing allotment, located northwest of Nogales, Arizona. The Center for Biological Diversity, a high profile environmental activist corporation, has written many petitions leading to the listing of species as endangered. Scientists have questioned whether some of these species are actually endangered. At trial, the Center claimed to have filed over 170 lawsuits against federal agencies. According to Chilton, these lawsuits have stopped school construction, terminated thousands of lumber production jobs, put Arizona and New Mexico communities into economic distress, and driven many western ranchers to the verge of bankruptcy. Kraig Marton, an attorney from the Phoenix-based law firm of Jaburg and Wilk, who represented Chilton when he fought back, stated this case shows how pictures can lie, said Marton. We are very pleased with the ruling, he added, and noted it is about time that the tables were turned on this group. Chilton said the suit was filed to challenge the way the Center for Biological Diversity consistently does business. They dont use science, they just wear people down and drive them out of business, said Chilton. They routinely use endangered species to raise money and fund their attacks on the cowboy and the western culture.
Chilton has also stated that after his expenses for this lawsuit are covered, he plans to donate the remaining money to the Arizona Cattle Growers Association to help spread the word that modern ranching conserves habitat for wildlife, increases biodiversity, and reduces threats of wildfire. At trial, the jury was shown the photographs disseminated by the Center that focused on tiny barren areas and implied that the range had been devastated by cattle.
Chiltons lawyer put up photographs taken from the same sites looking north, south, east, and west that revealed a vibrant and thriving environment. Experts testified that the allotment had been well managed by the Chiltons and, in fact, had been written up by leading range scientists as a Success Story, in the professional journal, Rangelands.
The jury agreed with Chiltons claims, finding that the Center knowingly disseminated false and malicious statements in a news advisory, and that misleading photographs were used to harm the Chiltons after the Centers unsuccessful attempt to block the renewal of Chiltons grazing permit. Chilton, who felt elated and vindicated, said the jury had done an admirable job of understanding days of scientific testimony. This case will help the public become aware that ranchers support real recovery of endangered species because quality habitat makes quality ranches.
Chilton emphasized that this case demonstrates the need to strengthen the Endangered Species Act to close loopholes that have allowed groups like the Center for Biological Diversity to make money by suing the federal government. It was revealed at trial that the Center collected over $990,000 in 2003 from lawsuits it filed, mostly against the government. Chilton decried the Centers list-and-sue policy as preventing the agencies and landowners from actually working to recover species.
According to Chilton, Now is the time to get recovery results from the Endangered Species Act by requiring peer-reviewed science for listings, providing incentives for landowners, recreationalists and rural businesses to preserve open space and improve habitat for species. Chilton concluded that we must actually recover species, not just play the game of listing them to put money in activist coffers and put Americans out of work.
For more information regarding this case, please contact Kraig Marton at (602) 248 - 1017 or (602) 570 3510 or PRfect Media at (480) 706-6880.
The lies of the Green extremists need to be more broadly exposed.
I have a 3 page .pdf Judgement and Declaratory Judgement sent to me by the Attorney, if anyone wants a copy.
Halleluja! Amen! Sanity at last in the legal system. I hope this result is NOT reversed on the inevitable appeal and serves to keep the whacko tree huggers at bay.
Would be nice if, instead of issuing the judgement aganst the "Center for whatever cr@ap" it was called, the judgements were entered against the INDIVIDUALS who called the shots. The Center can be folded up and the whackos can re-establish it with a new label otherwise.
With all due respect to the judge, the Endangered Species Act needs to be ABOLISHED - or limited to Bald Eagles.
Thanks for posting this.
Great news, except they ought to throw out the ESA and all the other legislation, expired or not, that arose out of that 1941 Treaty that was ratified by unrecorded voice vote! Carry_Okie had the details. You oughta send that to your victorious lawyer friend!!!
(snip of judgement)
THE COURT FINDS THAT part of the relief Plaintiffs sought was a Declaratory Judgement. The jury, inits verdict, answered three questions which the Court relies on in issuing the following Declaratory Judgement.
THE COURT FINDS THAT the Center for Biological Diversity posted a News Advisory (press release) which included links to 21 photographs on its website in July 2002. The News Advisory was written by Defendant Martin Taylor, who also took many of the photographs. Other photographs and certain captions were written by Defendant Andrew Jon Schneller. The News Advisory and photographs were posted on the Defendant Center for Biological Diversity's website by Defendant Shane Jimerfield.
THIS COURT FINDS AND DECLARES THAT the Defendants made false statements in their News Advisiory;
THIS COURT FURTHER FINDS AND DECLARES THAT the defendants' News Advisory did not accurately describe the condtition of the Montana Allotment, which is a grazing allotment permitted to Plaintiff James K. Chilton, Jr. and operated by Plaintiff Chilton Land and Cattle Company;
THIS COURT FURTHER FINDS AND DECLARES THAT the Defendants' News Advisory contained misleading photographs.
DATED this 2nd day of March, 2005.
Great article. Thanks for posting it.
Yes, Dorothy, there is a Santa Claus!!!! Praise the Lord!! A Judge who has rational thought processes!!!
:) hi Waspman!
I'll have to give CO an email on that.
Chilton's lawyer, Kraig Marton, said
a website was in the works for Mr. Chilton.
When this happens, I plan to come a callin'
here for plenty of data similar to the treaty you
mentioned and submit it to them.
Here we see one of the secret keys to these "green" groups. The source of their money is not from memberships or grass roots support, but from lawsuits against the government. Kudos to this one private citizen for stepping up and saying ENOUGH !
Even I can survive without it! But thanks.
I's sure the EnviroNazi Network, ENN, will pick it up.
Agreed. Attempts at managing animal populations by envirowackos have been miserable failures. And, they often harm the animals and/or others more than hunting did.
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