January 6, 2013

Publisher sues for civil rights violations

By Jennifer Hersey Cleveland, Staff Writer | Jan 5, 2013 | via Mountain Talk

Suit alleges false arrest, slander, and fraudulent concealment by Green Mountain Power, Coriell

NEWPORT CITY – The Chronicle publisher, whose criminal trespassing charge was dismissed after internal Green Mountain Power e-mails revealed that he had the company’s consent to be on Lowell Mountain to cover a protest, is suing the company as well as its agent, David Coriell.

Christopher Braithwaite and the Chronicle allege in the complaint that Coriell caused Braithwaite to be falsely arrested and that he did so maliciously and in retaliation because of editorials Braithwaite published opposing the industrial wind project on Lowell Mountain.

GMP concealed the fact that it had directed Coriell to tell law enforcement that reporters covering protests and arrests were not to be arrested – information that would have cleared him of any legal wrong-doing, the suit alleges.

GMP is liable for Coriell’s actions, the suit alleges.

Braithwaite, represented by Phil White, asks the court to grant repayment of the $22,530 in legal costs with 12 percent interest per year, punitive damages, and attorney fees and costs associated with the civil suit Besides the false arrest count, Braithwaite and the Chronicle allege that Coriell and GMP caused the false prosecution of Braithwaite; that Coriell made fraudulent and slanderous statements that he knew would cause law enforcement to arrest Braithwaite; and that GMP and Coriell fraudulently concealed the fact that Braithwaite had the company’s consent to remain on the mountain during the arrests for 12 months.

Braithwaite also alleges that his civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution were violated by the actions of Coriell and GMP.

“Braithwaite was acting within well established First Amendment Rights by voicing strong opinions and publishing fierce editorials opposing GMP’s commercial wind project on a ridgeline in Lowell,” the complaint states.

GMP and Coriell maintained a symbiotic relationship with law enforcement to coordinate arrests of protesters. As such, “GMP and/or Coriell were acting under the color oflaw and engaging in ‘state action’ when they maliciously gave the government false and misleading information with the purpose of causing the government to engage in false arrest and wrongful prosecution,” the complaint states.

“GMP and/or Coriell intentionally, fraudulently, and maliciously unleashed the power of government against Braithwaite in retaliation for the exercise of his well-established First Amendment Rights and did so with the intent to impair the ongoing exercise thereof,” the complaint states.

GMP and Coriell’s conduct also violated Braithwaite’s civil rights under Vermont law.

“These actions constituted malicious and unconstitutional retaliation for the exercise of Braithwaite’s right to publish his opinions regarding the commercial wind project in Lowell,” the complaint states.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/01/06/publisher-sues-for-civil-rights-violations/