Walter Mencken 5:01 p.m., Nov. 25
Shames sues UCAN
Co-founder of watchdog claims character assassination, says news service
The Courthouse News Service said today (Jan. 4) that Michael Shames has sued Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), the organization he once headed, for a "systematic and calculated plan of character assassination and economic harassment." (I have not yet seen the complaint, so for now will rely on the news service account; later, I will get the complaint and attempt to get quotations from some of the persons allegedly cited therein.) "Shames seeks damages for libel, conspiracy, wrongful firing, blacklisting, malicious prosecution, privacy invasion, intentional interference with prospective business relations," among other charges, according to the news service. UCAN announced early last year that it is being investigated by the United States Attorney's office. However, according to the news service, Shames claims in the suit that the U.S Attorney's office has not sought contact with him. According to inside sources (not the news service), Shames has threatened to sue board members on several occasions.
According to the news service Shames is represented by Hallen Rosner and Sharon Glassey of a San Diego law firm. The charges, as related by the news service, are similar to a letter that Rosner wrote UCAN board members on November 19, 2012. (This is not mentioned in the news service account.) On his website, Rosner boasts that he studied under Robert Fellmeth. Following graduation, Rosner and Fellmeth formed a consumer protection firm. Fellmeth was the actual founder of UCAN in 1983, shortly naming Shames as its second executive director. Recently, Fellmeth returned to the UCAN board and announced his intention of helping to straighten out the deeply troubled watchdog organization.