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Lawsuit (SLAPP)

1 Jun 2023

Bethany Sam - Standing Rock Sioux and Kutzadika’a Paiute Tribes


Date lawsuit was filed
1 Jun 2023
Date accuracy
Year and Month Correct
Bethany Sam
Standing Rock Sioux and Kutzadika’a Paiute Tribes
Indigenous peoples
Lawsuits: SLAPPs
Legal claims: Conspiracy, Tortious interference
Lawsuit Brought By: Company
Target: Individual
Location of Filing: United States of America
Location of Incident: United States of America
Other actors


In June 2023, the Lithium Nevada Corporation (part of Lithium Americas) sued seven individuals and the environmental watchdog organization Protect Thacker Pass in the United States. They are charged with Civil Conspiracy, Nuisance, Trespass, Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations, Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage, and Unjust Enrichment. The lawsuit targets Dean Barlese, respected elder and spiritual leader from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Dorece Sam from the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, Bhie-Cie Zahn-Nahtzu(Te-Moak Shoshone and Washoe), Bethany Sam from the Standing Rock Sioux and Kutzadika’a Paiute Tribes, Founding Director of Community Rights US Paul Cienfuegos, and Max Wilbert and Will Falk of Protect Thacker Pass. The case references instances of non-violent prayer and protest on 25 April 2023, and the establishment of a prayer camp at Thacker Pass that was raided and dismantled by police on 8 June. The Thacker Pass region is considered sacred by tribes. The company has been granted a temporary restraining order that restricts the defendants and “any third party acting in concert” from interfering with construction, blocking access roads, or even being in the area.

Lithium Nevada corporation has been in legal battles since 2021, when four environmental groups, a local rancher, and several tribes sued the Federal Government to attempt to overturn the permits for the mine.

We invited the company to respond; it did. A rejoinder from Protect Thacker Pass is also available below.