Goldberg, Thompson and Mott Author Report on "Vigilante Activism" Against Pipelines

Shook Partners Phil Goldberg and Jamie Thompson, with Associate Dalton Mott, have authored "Vigilante Regulation: When Anti-Pipeline Activism Becomes Tortious Interference" for Grow America's Infrastructure Now (GAIN) Coalition. The report focuses on some activists' efforts to "target private banks to force the banks into breaching their existing contractual obligations to fund pipeline construction"—efforts that might amount tortious interference with a contract. 
"Protesting, of course, is a time-honored American tradition, as is the right to organize and use the political and regulatory processes to advance political agendas," the authors write. "Government agencies intensely vet and approve all intrastate, interstate, and international pipelines. These processes require comprehensive environmental assessments with many and substantial opportunities for public input. Once the government makes a final decision, though, the law requires that people follow that decision. Taking matters into one’s own hands through use of threats and force should not be tolerated in an orderly society."
Goldberg published an article in Real Clear Policy in support of the GAIN Coalition report. "Courts should willingly apply this tort to the defund protesters when their efforts cross the line into unlawful conduct," he argues. "Here, the elements of the tort — existence of a valid contact, intent to induce a breach, and damages — could hardly be disputed. The defund protests’ own public relations efforts admit that their goal is to coerce banks into tearing up their existing pipeline financing obligations."