BYU assistant professor sued for statements about Utah Lake project
SALT LAKE COUNTY— Lake Restoration Solutions, LLC is suing Benjamin Abbott over various false and misleading statements over Lake Restoration and the Utah Lake Restoration Project according to court documents.
Abbott is an assistant professor at BYU in Ecosystems and Ecology and has been outspoken against the Utah Lake Restoration Project in recent months.
Please read and share this open letter signed by 117 environmental, engineering, and legal experts opposing the Utah Lake island development.
Our lake deserves better. Let’s stop this dangerous project and get back to the work of legitimate restoration.https://t.co/iqjfWtI2oq pic.twitter.com/qzgB8AmbDJ
— Ben Abbott (@thermokarst) December 29, 2021
The Utah Lake Restoration Project aims to dredge the lake and restore it, to “reduce water loss and evaporation while creating sustainable wildlife habitats,” according to their website.
Abbott is being sued for $3 million for defamation, false light, and intentional interference with prospective economic relations. Lake Restoration Solutions says the false information shared by Abbott has damaged their company from potential investors.
According to the suit, Abbott’s claims are unfounded.
“While Lake Restoration welcomes fulsome, fact-based discussion of the Project (about which Lake Restoration has repeatedly invited public feedback), Abbott is not entitled to poison the debate with his false and defamatory statements—which he has promulgated on multiple forums, including Twitter, Facebook, public meetings, and his own personal blog,” the lawsuit said.
According to the suit, Abbott has said on multiple occasions that Lake Restoration has “shady foreign funding” or funding that “comes from Dubai.” Abbott has also made many statements that Lake Restoration, “has no scientists on its team,” and “has no Ph.D. scientists on their team”.
Lake Restoration states in the documents, “Lake Restoration has engaged and contracted with highly qualified scientists, including Ph.D.-level scientists, to work on the Project and the Proposal; and because those scientists and other third-party scientists and environmentalists think the Project is a good idea.”
According to the suit, Lake Restoration disputed Abbott’s statement that Lake Restoration “went public on the SEC last year,” saying that Lake Restoration is a private company and did not go public on the SEC during 2020 or at any other point. Lake Restoration also never received from public markets.
Abbott also allegedly stated that he had “met repeatedly with the developers, however Lake Restoration states Abbott has never met with them, the proponent of the Utah Lake project.
Lake Restorations asserts in the suit that these statements were not only blatantly false but harmful to their company and the future of their project.
According to the suit, Lake Restoration plans to donate the money received in the suit to one or more qualified 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations committed to water conservation and environmental sustainability.
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