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Company Seeks End to Bizarre Calls

HOUSTON (CN) - An energy company clams that after it rejected a man's bids to demolish two of its power plants, the man called in increasingly bizarre and threatening messages, demanding to be paid for the trouble of submitting the bids. RRI Energy claims James Mercer harassed its employees, told them he is "willing to die," and told a company vice president that his "95-year-old gypsy grandmother" had placed a curse on the company.

In its complaint in Harris County Court, RRI says it owns and operates power generation plants "and is one of the leading providers of electricity in the United States."

In 2008 and 2009, Mercer's Sugar Land, Texas-based company, Mercer Machine Works, placed bids to demolish RRI Energy's power plants in Etiwanda and Ormond Beach, Calif., RRI says. RRI rejected the bids, finding Mercer Machine Works was not qualified to do the work, according to the complaint.

When RRI denied Mercer's requests for reimbursement of his bidding costs, Mercer "began a campaign of calling and harassing RRI's officers and employees," the complaint states.

It claims Mercer called RRI's CEO after 10 p.m., prompting RRI's vice president of west and south gas operations, Matthew Pistner, to direct all Mercer's contacts to him, Pistner says.

Mercer called Pistner's cell phone the next day and complained that RRI is a "big unfair company that doesn't care about the little guy," according to the complaint.

It claims Mercer said he would sell his house and car and quit his job so he could "devote himself full time to making sure that he gets what's owed him."

Mercer also threatened to show up at several RRI executives' homes, saying he would "do what it takes to get your attention," according to the complaint.

"When Mr. Pistner tried to explain that RRI had taken his complaint seriously and performed a thorough review of his claims, Mr. Mercer interrupted and began screaming," the complaint states.

An hour later, RRI says, Mercer called Pistner's phone again. "He asked if Mr. Pistner was superstitious, then said that he, Mr. Mercer, had asked his 95-year-old gypsy grandmother to place a curse of Mr. Pistner and his family and on RRI."

The complaint continues: "Mr. Mercer was contacted by a Houston police officer after his calls to Mr. Pistner on the evening of [Jan. 6]. The officer asked Mr. Mercer to stop calling RRI officers and employees. Mr. Mercer ignored his request and called several RRI officers on January 7."

RRI Energy and Pistner seek damages for harassment, stalking, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They also want a restraining order to prevent Mercer from contacting or coming within 200 yards of any RRI officers, directors and employees, and from coming within 200 yards of RRI's facilities.

RRI is represented by Michael Wilson with Akin Gump.

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