BISMARCK, N.D. — A private security firm hired by the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline wants a judge to restrict evidence during an upcoming civil trial over whether it operated illegally in North Dakota.
An attorney for North Carolina-based TigerSwan also wants Judge John Grinsteiner to dismiss company President James Reese as a defendant in the case.
North Dakota's Private Investigative and Security Board sued TigerSwan and Reese last June, saying the company operated without a license during protests against the pipeline. It wants a judge to ban TigerSwan from the state. The board also could seek thousands of dollars in fines and fees.
TigerSwan maintains it provided consulting services that don't require a North Dakota license — not investigative or security services regulated by the board — and relied on information from other companies hired by Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners. Attorney Lynn Boughey in a flurry of recent court filings asked the judge to dismiss the board's allegations, saying any investigative work done by TigerSwan officials occurred at the company's headquarters in North Carolina.
"They were kind of the conduit, bringing all of the information together into something usable," Boughey said in an interview Tuesday. "They didn't need to be licensed."
Board attorney Monte Rogneby said there is no dispute that TigerSwan employees worked in North Dakota.
"Their claim is that none of those employees were engaged in activities that would require a license," he said. "The board disagrees with their assessment."
Pipeline opponents have denounced TigerSwan for allegedly using military-style counter-terrorism measures, having a close working relationship with public law enforcement and using propaganda. TigerSwan maintains it's the victim of a smear campaign.
A five-day trial on the civil suit is scheduled to begin Oct. 8. Boughey has asked Grinsteiner to bar any evidence about TigerSwan activities conducted outside of North Dakota. Rogneby said he thinks that request is premature.
Boughey also wants Reese dismissed as a defendant, saying the state hasn't provided any facts that the company president personally handled any investigative or security services.
Rogneby said the board maintains Reese "caused his company to provide services in North Dakota without being licensed."
Boughey said he plans to make a settlement offer to the state this week, though he declined to provide details. Rogneby said previous settlement discussions failed.
The $3.8 billion pipeline began moving North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois last June. While it was being built, six months of protests in North Dakota by opponents who feared environmental harm resulted in 761 arrests.