Cal Coast News sued by Arroyo Grande man claiming defamation

An Arroyo Grande businessman has filed a defamation lawsuit against an online news site alleging a story published by the site contained false and defamatory statements about him.

The lawsuit, filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on May 10 names Cal Coast News and reporters Karen Velie and Daniel Blackburn as defendants.

Velie said Wednesday she had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit, and did not comment on it.

The libel complaint centers on a story published by the news site in November 2012 about Charles Tenborg, CEO and president of Eco Solutions, a hazardous waste management service in Arroyo Grande.

The lawsuit alleges that Velie intentionally included false information in the story about Eco Solutions and Tenborg that could potentially damage Tenborg’s reputation.

Tenborg requested a retraction but it was refused, according to the lawsuit filed by the San Francisco law firm Kerr and Wagstaffe LLP.

“I could not sit idly by and watch my hard-earned reputation be destroyed by these falsehoods,” said Tenborg in a press release issued by the law firm.

In the story, authored by Velie and Blackburn, it is reported that Tenborg’s company illegally transported hazardous waste for San Luis Obispo County’s Integrated Waste Management Authority, according to the lawsuit.

“When a news publication makes the type of serious allegations that Cal Coast News made about Tenborg and his company, it is really important that the publication gets the facts right before making those statements,” said Attorney Kevin Clune. “The reporter had the opportunity to speak to Tenborg and others to confirm the facts beforehand and what was reported was very different then the facts given to Velie.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A case-management conference is scheduled for Sept. 12 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

This is the second defamation lawsuit in two months that has involved Cal Coast News.

In April, Dee Torres, the homeless services coordinator for Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, filed a defamation lawsuit against a private investigator from Atascadero who, according to Velie, has donated his time to track down sources for the news site.

That lawsuit was written in a way that could include additional plaintiffs as the case moves forward. The suit made it clear that those would be people associated with both radio broadcasting and an online news agency.

A civil lawsuit only represents one side in the case.