The man sued by Costco for allegedly trespassing while picketing the store over what he claims are misrepresentations of its gas prices has filed a motion to dismiss the case.
Retired psychologist Will Powers has filed an anti-SLAPP motion in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, alleging that Costco is trying to intimidate him into quitting his protesting by filing a baseless lawsuit.
SLAPP is an acronym of “strategic lawsuit against public participation” and applies to lawsuits that seek to burden defendants with legal costs until they abandon their opposition.
Powers has been holding up signs for three months outside the store’s gas station that read “Costco gas is a ripoff” and “Costco hates free speech.”
He claims the store is misrepresenting itself by offering the lowest gas prices in town as it matches the lowest prices of other gas stations.
Powers said Costco doesn’t calculate membership fees or the cost impacts of requiring use of a debit, Costco cash or American Express card.
Costco has alleged Powers has trespassed on its property as he pickets outside the company’s gas station on Froom Ranch Road.
The company — which revoked Powers’ membership — also alleges he called employees “fascist bastards,” even threatening that one worker would end up dead.
Powers said he never threatened an employee or member and only used the term “fascists” in referring to employees.
In addition, he said he hasn’t violated any laws and has sought to stay on public property as he pickets.
But he said that Costco has told him different locations of its property line.
Judge Dodie Harman didn’t grant a temporary restraining order in favor of Costco after a hearing last month and instead ordered Powers to follow an agreement between him and the company that he’d stay off Costco’s property — and for Costco to provide a map of where the properly line exists.
“The failure and refusal (to drop the lawsuit) shows plaintiff did not ever expect to win its case, so that’s not why it was filed,” Powers wrote in his motion filed Wednesday.
Costco’s lawyers did not respond to an email requesting comment on the case Thursday.
In related news, a criminal case filed against Powers in March alleging interference with lawful business operations was dismissed by Judge John Trice on April 20.