MINNEAPOLIS – A Hennepin County District Court judge has dismissed a harassment complaint filed against a Goodhue County farmer by an environmental scientist hired to do research for the AWA Goodhue wind project.
Brie Anderson, a Westwood Professional Services environmental scientist filed a 16-page complaint after an incident in March that occurred as she conducted a bat and avian survey on Dan Ryan’s property, where Anderson claims bald eagle baiting was occurring.
According to the affidavit filed with Judge Mark Labine, Ryan became upset that Anderson was on or near his property without his permission. Ryan called the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office and blocked Anderson’s vehicle with his tractor until authorities arrived. Anderson likened it to being held “hostage.”
“His face was red and angry-looking and he yelled at me, with his spit hitting my car-door window,” wrote Anderson, adding that she’s changed vehicles and now refuses to work alone. She’s also requested a restraining order for two years. “I was afraid, and am still afraid, for my safety and security.”
Emily Duke, an attorney from Fredrikson & Byron, which has represented AWA Goodhue since 2008, argued her case before Judge Labine for two days in May before turning it over to the defense.
Ryan’s attorney, Dan Schleck, who has represented local critics of the wind project since 2010, got the case dismissed without even turning to his legal arguments. Schleck said that the form of harassment Anderson alleged, which is most typical in spousal disputes, requires physical contact; Ryan’s only contact was putting a hand on Anderson’s vehicle.
“The judge immediately agreed with me, and I didn’t even have to go into my defense,” Schleck said. The judge also recommended sanctions against Fredrikson & Byron to cover Ryan’s legal fees.
Anderson did not return calls seeking comment, but attorney Joey Vossen of Fredrikson & Byron issued a statement: “Westwood’s first and foremost concern is the safety of our employees, and we’ll act accordingly to ensure that.”
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