Canada’s wind energy giant has slapped a Strathroy-area rock gardener with a lawsuit alleging she’s harming its reputation.
In a Goliath-vs-David dispute, NextEra Energy Canada says Esther Wrightman is discrediting it, depreciating its goodwill in the community and mutilating its copyrighted logo.
NextEra Energy’s operating revenue in 2012 was $14 billion.
On the other side is Wrightman, who says she can’t even afford the $144 fee to file her statement of defence.
“It’s totally parody,” Wrightman said, defending her manipulation of the NextEra logo. “It’s parody and it’s fair comment on what they’ve done.”
A mother of two, whose income comes from disability supports and selling plants for rock gardens, Wrightman has been a thorn in NextEra’s side for opposing wind turbines planned for the Strathroy area. She’s also drawn the company’s ire for posting a video of the dismantling of a bald eagle’s nest in the path of a Haldimand turbine project.
The lawsuit, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, contends Wrightman mutilated the firm’s logo by making it read “NextTerror” and “NextError.” It also says she infringed on copyright, made misleading statements meant to discredit the business, made false representations and showed bad faith.
“The only request NextEra has ever made of her is that she cease distorting, mutilating or otherwise modifying NextEra’s corporate names and logos,” the statement of claim says.
NextEra had earlier sent Wrightman a cease-and-desist letter and persuaded blog host WordPress to take down the eagle video and manipulated logo.
Wrightman’s objections to WordPress restored the blog content.
Then came the lawsuit and its 35 pages of allegations against her.
Wrightman sent the company an email with 17 pages of defence, which she hasn’t filed in court because she’s asked for a waiver of the $144 fee because of financial hardship.
The statement of claim contains allegations that haven’t been proven in court.
“NextEra welcomes fair, critical input from community members with regards to its operations and is always ready to engage in constructive discussions” the lawsuit contends, adding the company has “committed no acts of terror or violence.”
The suit doesn’t ask for a specific damage figure, but NextEra says it would send any court award to charities supported by the United Way.
Wrightman said her take on the company name reflects both residents’ fear of the ill effects of turbines and the errors she said the company has made, which she said included double-booked rooms for a public consultation meeting.
The lawsuit’s allegations against her, Wrightman said, bring wider publicity to company nicknames that were previously used only locally.
“Now people across Ontario and the U.S. are using that word. They’ve put it out there.”
A spokesperson for NextEra told QMI Agency the company doesn’t comment on litigation.
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ABOUT ESTHER WRIGHTMAN
- Strathroy-area mother of two.
- Citizen activist fighting wind projects.
- Leapt to public notice filming Adelaide-Metcalfe township council’s public meetings and posting videos to YouTube.
- Made headlines last year when township mayor called the police to make her stop.
- Ranks No. 1 in its sector in Fortune Magazine’s 2011-2012 World’s Most Admired Companies
- With its related companies, is North America’s largest wind and solar power producer.
- Operates more than 100 projects in Canada and the U.S.
- Operates five wind and two solar projects in Canada, with seven more in development in Canada.
- 14,800 employees
- More than $28 billion invested in capital projects in the past five years
Source: NextEra Energy 2012 annual report.
With file by Paul Morden, QMI Agency
Click here to download Wrightman’s “Statement of Defence”. Examples of altered logo:
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