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Eitzen sole remaining defendant

Staff writer

Peabody farmer and wind farm opponent Randy Eitzen now goes it alone as the only remaining defendant in a lawsuit Expedition Wind developers originally filed against him and five others.

Although all defendants in Expedition Wind’s suit hoped to see the lawsuit dismissed Friday, judge Steven Hornbaker dismissed all but Eitzen, from whom Expedition hopes to collect more than $35 million on their claim of abuse of process.

Expedition successfully argued that Eitzen’s repeated filings of lawsuits trying to block wind farm development amounted to abuse of process.

Eitzen was lead plaintiff in three lawsuits — one of them still active — filed to block development of the wind farm in the southern portion of the county. Construction has not yet begun.

The first anti-wind farm suit was filed May 16, 2019, by Eitzen and 57 others. Defendants were Expedition, county commissioners, and the county clerk. A judge dismissed that suit Aug. 23, 2019.

The second suit was filed July 10, 2019, by Eitzen and 72 others. The defendant was the county planning and zoning commission. Eitzen dismissed the case a week later.

The third suit was filed Aug. 14, 2019, by Eitzen and 71 others. The original defendants were county commissioners, but Expedition joined the suit. Later, all but six plaintiffs accepted settlement offers and withdrew from the still-active lawsuit.

The six remaining plaintiffs in the active suit were the original six defendants in Expedition’s suit.

Hornbaker dismissed Tom Britain, Susan Mayo, Steven Butts, Brandon Butts, and Michelle Butts, whose participation in the earlier lawsuits, Expedition argued, amounted to tortious interference with business activity because the repeated lawsuits caused Expedition to lose sales of project production tax credits.

“Mr. Eitzen has been using the court system not for its intended purpose, but as a weapon to try to kill a project that most Marion County residents want,” Expedition spokeswoman Lindsay Ransom said. “The court’s order shows that those harmed by Mr. Eitzen’s improper conduct, including Expedition Wind, will get their day in court.”

Last modified July 16, 2020

 

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