(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that the landowner sold his property for the private border wall.)
McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The North American Butterfly Association has filed a motion in federal court to nonsuit the founders of the controversial organization We Build The Wall, as well as the builder of a private border wall in South Texas, but the nonprofit’s defamation lawsuit that was remanded to state court remains.
NABA earlier this week filed a motion in federal court to nonsuit We Build The Wall founders Steve Bannon and Brian Kolfage, as well as Fisher Industries, which built the 3.5-mile galvanized steel structure in January 2020 south of Mission, Texas. Also listed to be nonsuited was the landowner who sold a section of his property along the Rio Grande for the private border wall, for which We Build The Wall crowdsourced millions of dollars to build.
The nonsuit applies only to federal court and claims pertaining to the land alleging the private border wall is a threat and nuisance to neighboring properties, like NABA’s National Butterfly Center, which is located half a mile from the private border wall structure.
The defendants are still named in NABA’s civil lawsuit that is now in state court alleging defamation by Bannon and Kolfage against National Butterfly Center Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright.
Treviño-Wright told Border Report the decision to nonsuit the defendants in federal court occurred after U.S. District Judge Randy Crane last month split the case and remanded the nonprofit’s defamation allegations to state court. However, allegations regarding the land remained within his court, the U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, in McAllen.
“We filed it because we could not risk Crane dismissing our suit with prejudice for all current and future claims so this means that should we have a flood this year that takes that Fisher wall down or property damage from it, that the scientists say it will create, then we still have the right to sue,” Treviño-Wright said.
She said NABA never had intended for the civil case to be in federal court at all.
But Crane bumped the case to his court in December 2019 when the federal government filed its own lawsuit against the same defendants, on behalf of the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, to try to stop construction of the private border wall.
Then on Jan. 13, Crane severed the case. He ordered allegations regarding the land to remain in his court, and remanded defamation charges to the 398th Judicial Court in Hidalgo County, Texas.
The day after, during a joint hearing, the federal government announced it appeared close to a settlement in its lawsuit with the defendants.
“Crane has made his bias and his intention evident from Day 1,” Treviño-Wright told Border Report.
The motion to nonsuit was unopposed by the defendants, she said.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at email@example.com.