Seventus LLC and Wharton Wind LLC are seeking to erect an industrial wind energy facility in Wharton County, Texas. A number of county residents organized in an effort to share information regarding the wind energy proposal and to discuss potential harmful impacts once the project is placed in service. Lacricia Ryan, who with her family operate a crop-dusting business in Wharton County, is part of the group looking to educate the community about the project.
On December 19, 2018, Attorney Joshua Sandler issued a cease and desist letter to Mrs. Ryan wherein he states Mrs. Ryan is “engaged in spreading false, destructive, and defamatory rumors” about the project developer (“Developer”) and the project.
Mrs. Ryan is specifically accused of having:
- "Falsely represented that Developer paid a $75,000 bribe or gift to the El Campo independent School District in connection with the Developer’s Chapter 313 tax abatement application;
- "Falsely represented that Developer’s Chapter 313 tax abatement application was subject to a nefarious and secretive process “noticed at the last minute,” in violation of Texas laws on open meetings;
- "Falsely represented that the Developer’s Chapter 313 tax abatement application, which listed landowners and parcel numbers within a Reinvestment Zone, was a prelude to Developer seeking to obtain title over such properties via eminent domain;
- "Falsely represented that by signing a wind lease, the landowner is giving up all of its surface rights in their property; and
- "Falsely represented that agriculture jobs will be lost and large quantities of agricultural land destroyed if the Project is built."
In response, Mrs. Ryan engaged Attorney Tony McDonald who sent a separate letter stating there is “insufficient information” for Mrs. Ryan or others to know which statements are being complained about. Attorney McDonald asks, among other things, that Developer provide the statements alleged to be false and defamatory, the time and place of their publication, the alleged defamatory meaning of each statement and to also “specify the circumstances causing a defamatory meaning of each statement if it arises from something other than the express language of the publication.”
Both letters can be downloaded from this page.