In an opinion authored by the Chief Judge for The Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas, a three-judge panel affirmed the denial of the Defendants’ motions to dismiss a lawsuit involving claims of fraud, conspiracy to defraud, and other wrongdoing by asserting that their communications were protected by “Anti-SLAPP” legislation in Texas. The decision affirming the trial judge decision hands Plaintiffs, represented by Squire Patton Boggs, a victory in Don Harris et al. v. Terry Knutson et al. and sends the case back to the trial court for litigation on the merits.
From at least January 2015 through early 2017, Don Harris, Charles Shaw, Michael K. Wilson, and Robert Luna (collectively, "Defendants") orchestrated a fraudulent scheme and made materially false and misleading statements to potential and actual investors, including Plaintiffs, in order to offer and sell ownership interest in Wireless Power. The Defendants set up Wireless Power in October 2014 and marketed it as being "on the verge of capitalizing on a ground-breaking and revolutionary opportunity to harness electricity and to distribute it wirelessly to all parts of the globe."
The Defendants used various entities they owned or controlled to execute the scheme, including Tesla Energy LLC, Holmes Financial Services LLC, and Texanova Energy, Inc. Through fraudulent representations, Defendants sold securities and raised more than $13 million from approximately 85 investors located in various U.S. states and elsewhere.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the Defendants each filed motions to dismiss under Chapter 27 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code (the “Anti-SLAPP statute”), which has received extensive attention in Texas courts based on defendants’ abusive use of the Anti-SLAPP statute to challenge claims it was never intended to cover. After hearing oral argument on the motions to dismiss in, the trial court denied the motions, which Defendants appealed. The Dallas Court of Appeals heard oral argument in February 2020 and upheld the trial court’s decision, concluding that the Anti-SLAPP statute did not bar Plaintiffs’ claims.
Plaintiffs are represented by Squire Patton Boggs Dallas senior partner Cass Weiland and of counsel Robert Hawkins and Rose Romero of the Law Offices of Romero Kozub.