ST. PAUL — A Marcell, Minn., logging company on Monday, Jan. 27, filed a civil suit against a suspect charged in a separate criminal case with the sabotage of more than $30,000 worth of heavy machinery.
Scheff Logging and Trucking seeks more than $100,000 in damages from Shawn Ray Etsitty of Mentore, New Mexico. Etsitty currently faces criminal charges in St. Louis County for allegedly helping to disable equipment at a Scheff work site near Cloquet, Minn., last February.
He is charged with aiding and abetting damage to property in the criminal proceeding. Attorneys from the Upper Midwest Law Center, which is representing Scheff in the civil case, said they filed the suit to deter future acts of what they said amounts to "eco-terrorism."
"This can't continue," said Douglas P. Seaton, the group's founder and president.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 28, Seaton compared the actions of the vandals to those of protesters who sought to disrupt oil pipeline developments in the Dakotas, Washington and Pennsylvania. The law firm, which describes itself as "pro-freedom" and "center-right," said the vandals believed the work site was affiliated with the Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project although that is not the case.
Canadian energy company Enbridge is seeking to build the new $2.9 billion Line 3 oil pipeline to carry more than 30 million gallons of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to a terminal in Superior, Wis.
An attorney listed in criminal court documents for Etsitty, who remains free on bail, could not be reached Tuesday. In August, Etsitty and another man pleaded guilty to vandalizing an Enbridge work site in Carlton County. He was given probation and fined.
The Upper Midwest Law Center said the vandals did damage at the Scheff site to four machines by tearing wiring, stealing keys and disabling hydraulic lines. Revenue lost because of the damage and wages spent to address it factor into the damage figure sought in the civil suit.
The firm also alleges that the vandals were trained by environmentalist groups active in Minnesota. Seaton said additional individuals and groups may be charged in the suit as new information comes to light.
Seaton said that Scheff is a family owned company with approximately 25 employees. The company is joined in the civil suit by the Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota, a trade group.
As of Tuesday morning, Etsitty had not responded to the suit.