North Dakota regulators again ask judge to ban TigerSwan
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The board that licenses private security firms in North Dakota implored a judge on Tuesday to reconsider his decision not to ban from the state a North Carolina-based company hired by the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
North Dakota’s Private Investigative and Security Board maintains that TigerSwan operated illegally without a state license in 2016 and 2017, and that an injunction is necessary to prevent the company from doing it again.
TigerSwan has argued that the work it did in the state was beyond the board’s purview, “so I’m not sure why there would be any limitations in (them) coming back to the state and operating in the same way,” board attorney Monte Rogneby told Judge John Grinsteiner.
TigerSwan attorney Lynn Boughey noted that CEO James Reese said in an affidavit that the company has no intention of returning to North Dakota until the dispute with the licensing board is resolved.
“They’re not coming into this state after the way they’ve been treated by this board,” Boughey said.
Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners hired TigerSwan to handle security as thousands of pipeline opponents flocked to North Dakota to protest the $3.8 billion project to move oil to a shipping point in Illinois.
TigerSwan maintained that it provided consulting services to ETP that don’t require a North Dakota license and that any actual investigative work occurred in North Carolina, outside the board’s jurisdiction.
The board sued TigerSwan and Reese in June 2017 for operating without a license. Grinsteiner in late April rejected the board’s request to order that TigerSwan stay out of the state, ruling in part that the company hadn’t shown any intent to return. That opened the door for his eventual dismissal of the board’s entire complaint, when he determined a month later that any decision on whether TigerSwan should be fined for its actions during the protests should be handled administratively and not through the courts.
Rogneby wants the case to continue in the courts so the board can gather evidence through the legal discovery process to further prove its claim that TigerSwan broke the law.
“We feel the court’s decision started kind of a cascade of unintended consequences in this case,” he told the judge.
Boughey countered that “because they don’t have a case, they want to create one through this court.”
Grinsteiner didn’t immediately rule Tuesday. If he refuses to reconsider, the board still can appeal the case’s dismissal to the state Supreme Court or pursue tens of thousands of dollars in fines against TigerSwan through an administrative process.