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Wind energy companies bulldozed black family's home after they refused to sell their property, lawsuit claims

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(NaturalNews) A newly filed lawsuit claims that wind energy companies bulldozed an African-American family's home because they were lone holdouts who would not sell their property to allow for the construction of a major wind farm.

The suit, which was filed by Darlene Dotson and sons David and Daniel, names EDP Renewables North America, Horizon Wind Energy Co., Rising Tree Wind Farm, CVE Contracting Group, and Renewable Land LLC, according to Courthouse News. It was filed May 7 in Superior Court in Los Angeles.

The family claims that their holdout is the main reason for the actions taken by the energy firms.

"Plaintiffs in this action are the victims of a multinational energy developer who refused to accept 'No' for an answer," the 32-page complaint begins.

"The heart of the issue is that the Dotson's own property in Mojave that is sought after by EDP Renewables for windmills, and they refuse to sell," Morgan Stewart, the Dotsons' attorney, told Courthouse News.

"The home on the property was a family home they used for family vacations and gatherings. EDP pressured them to sell, but they still refused," Stewart said. "The house was damaged several times when they were away. And then one time when they went back to the house they found that it had been demolished, scraped to the foundations, along with all of their belongings. The companies did it.

"We see it as intentional because EDP needed the property for the wind farm, but the Dotsons wouldn't sell," Stewart continued.

Actions viewed as aggressive and harassing

Managers of the energy project say it will generate nearly 200 megawatts of electricity after it goes online later this year, which is enough electricity to power around 60,000 homes.

The family says that the energy firms approached them about constructing the wind farm in 2009. The firms said they need to acquire surrounding plots of land, including the land belonging to the Dotsons, for the wind farm.

The site is located in the Tehachapi Mountains, which top out around 8,000 feet above sea level where the wind is nearly constant, as cool air on top and the Pacific Ocean to the west draw the superheated desert air through mountain passes.

"Like the infamous Daniel Plainview from Paul Thomas Anderson's Film, 'There Will Be Blood,' defendants held themselves out as friends to the local community and a source of prosperity for its residents," says the complaint.

"Among other things, defendants promised Mrs. Dotson and her neighbors that the wind farm would stimulate the local economy and generate energy revenue for cooperating landowners. All that Mrs. Dotson and her neighbors had to do was to sign over the rights to their homes," the complaint continued.

However, Darlene Dotson said she turned down the sales pitch, allegedly telling the energy companies that she did not want to sell her property because her family "cherished" their home and its history more than any offers of money.

"The house had been in their family for 20 years, and was one of the original homesteads built by African Americans in the early 20th century," Stewart said.

The Dotsons said they used their home for family gatherings, vacations, barbecues and birthday celebrations. Both sons grew up there and took their own children to play there as well. The complaint states it was "hallowed ground" for the family.

The complaint says that once the energy companies understood that the Dotsons were serious about keeping their home, they became more aggressive. Mrs. Dotson said officials with the companies began to treat her disrespectfully and insulted her, telling her "the home was worthless and that the Dotsons should take the money because it was the best they would ever get for the land."

"Wiped off the face of the earth"

In February, the energy firms began demolishing surrounding homes to prepare to develop the land for the wind farm. In their complaint, the Dotsons say that when they went to the family home in March to do some maintenance, it was "literally wiped off the face of the Earth."

Stewart said the family is not sure exactly when the home was demolished. The family said several officials from the various energy companies had called to insist that razing their home had been a mistake.

"The pressure to sell from EDP, the strong-arm tactics leading up to the demolition, and coming along afterward and trying to buy again, all indicate that this was not an accident," Stewart said. "This was an intentional act by a company that thought it could strong-arm these people."

Courthouse News noted further:

The Dotsons seek punitive damages for trespass to land, violation of the Bane Civil Rights Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress, conversion, nuisance, unfair business practices and negligence.





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