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Canada’s ERA drops BAN lawsuit

April 17, 2019

The Canadian Electronics Recycling Association (ERA) has dropped its defamation lawsuit against Basel Action Network.

BAN, as part of its worldwide e-Trash Transparency Project, had reported that three GPS tracked e-waste devices that were deposited at ERA’s drop sites in Canada went directly to Hong Kong and Pakistan.

One week prior to this dismissal, US District Judge Joan Lefkow in Chicago sentenced the CEO of a another “false recycler”, Intercon Solutions, to three years in jail and restitution of over a million dollars; Intercon Solutions had sued BAN in 2011 for reporting on its e-waste exports.

On April 23rd a Seattle based recycler, Total Reclaim, will be sentenced for conspiracy to commit wire fraud after they were caught trying to cover up their e-waste exporting, discovered again by BAN’s GPS trackers and published in the BAN report Scam Recycling (2016).

“Our GPS tracker program has already resulted in numerous successful prosecutions and legislation around the globe,” said Jim Puckett. “The little gadgets have an unnerving habit of telling the unaware public the truth about the fate of their electronic waste delivered for recycling, when unscrupulous electronics recyclers will not.”

BAN is waging a protracted campaign against what it calls “scam recyclers” that instead of recycling the public’s e-waste, export it cheaply to dangerous backyard recycling operations in developing countries, with great risk to both local workers and the local environment.

BAN’s October 2018 release of the Canadian report ‘Export of e-Waste from Canada: A story as told by GPS trackers’ detailed how 43 trackers had been placed into old used electronic scrap printers, monitors and computers and dropped off at recycling facilities across Canada.

BAN discovered that 3 of the total 5 exports were exported by ERA. The report also highlighted ERA’s long history of similar exports discovered by BAN in past years, as well as a history of selling BAN operatives electronic equipment with private corporate data still on the devices, and for harassing its volunteers.

As a result of this reporting, ERA filed a lawsuit against BAN and Jim Puckett on November 2, 2018, for defamation and false advertising (Lanham Act). ERA alleged that: It has “no record of ever selling BAN any electronic devices and has no record of receiving any GPS-tracked devices from BAN or anyone else”; it has “extensive policies and procedures to ensure residual corporate data is not retained on items that are reused or result”; it “did not export any of the shipping containers identified in BAN’s Report”; and its founder “did not threaten BAN volunteers photographing his property and did not send anyone to confront and intimidate the volunteers with large dogs.”

As a response to the defamation suit, BAN filed a motion to dismiss. On April 2, Judge Marsha Pechman of the United States District Court Western District of Washington at Seattle, granted in part and denied in part BAN’s motion to dismiss in her order. Notably, Judge Pechman dismissed the federal Lanham Act claim for false advertising, stating that the report and press release did not qualify as commercial speech. The Court also dismissed part of ERA’s defamation claim, upholding BAN’s First Amendment right to express its opinion about the likely illegality of ERA’s activities. Less than two weeks later, the parties signed a Settlement and Mutual Release agreement, dismissing ERA’s remaining claims with prejudice.

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