DALLAS (CN) – The son of energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens has moved to dismiss privacy claims over a tell-all blog that attributes his drug addiction to abuse his father allegedly heaped upon him during his childhood.
Pickens, his son T. Boone Pickens III, his daughter Pamela Pickens and his stepdaughter Elizabeth Cordia anonymously sued Michael Pickens in Dallas County Court in February, alleging that they received upsetting and frightening Tweets and emails because of the latter’s blog, “5 Days in Connecticut.”
Michael Pickens moved to dismiss and demanded damages on March 29, outing the identities of the plaintiffs. He argues that his posts are protected by the First Amendment.
“I was clinically depressed at age 10,” the blog stated, according to court filings. “I began drinking beer and whiskey when I was 12 – by the time I was 17[,] I was a drug addict and an alcoholic smoking pot every day before and after school, eating my mother’s Valium and Darvon and snorting cocaine.”
Its posts describe how fear filled the home when T. Boone Pickens was there.
“Long, frightening, yelling and screaming ‘matches’ were common,” one states. “It was my father against us, always. He hated and despised all of us and we knew it. We needed to ‘run our lives in a business like manner,’ he would say.’ I did not know what this meant. Business? Were we in a store or in an office? What did he mean? What was he talking about?”
Michael Pickens also allegedly wrote: “When I think back on my childhood, all I can remember is my profound feeling of worthlessness, helplessness, confusion and fear. I still wonder what sort of perverse satisfaction my father got out of this, his own personal brand of child abuse.”
His relatives flatly disagree with the stories, which they say amount to extortion, cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying.
“The statements made by defendant on his blog are, on information and belief, nothing more than his version of poor recollections, childhood fantasies, misdirected anger, transference and a psychological aversion to taking responsibility for his own bad choices and behavior,” the complaint stated. “Defendant’s life was not marked by physical, emotional, spiritual and mental abuse brought on by the plaintiffs. In fact, the defendant’s life has been marked by his own self[-]inflicted failures, reprehensible conduct, individual drug abuse, and alcohol dependency, despite the support of his family has given in the past.”
They noted one example of T. Boone Pickens having helped defend Michael Pickens in Manhattan against 2006 federal charges that he swindled investors out of $2 million in a stock fraud scheme.
“Plaintiff B.P. spent several million dollars to pay for attorneys’ fees, expenses, restitution and twenty-one months of inpatient substance abuse treatment,” the complaint stated. “Primarily as a result of the herculean efforts on the part of plaintiff B.O., defendant miraculously escaped prison and was instead granted a five year fully probated sentence.”
In his motion, Michael Pickens says his lengthy Feb. 6 post was motivated by the Jan. 29 death of 21-year-old Thomas “Ty” Pickens IV, grandson to the energy tycoon who had been enrolled at Texas Christian University.
Michael Pickens said this compelled him to expose “a great deal of his own colorful history and especially the controlling and uncaring behavior of his father.”
He said his goal, even before Ty Pickens’ death, was to focus on the country’s drug-addiction problem. Examining “negative family dynamics that allow addiction to thrive” is key, he explained.
The motion cites reports of heroin use being probed in the death of Ty Pickens. It also says that the plaintiffs have agreed that their lawsuit implicates Michael Pickens’ freedom of speech by signing off on an agreed temporary injunction on March 1.
“That order allows Mike to publish stories about his family members when the stories have a logical nexus to Mike’s own personal observations and experiences about them,” the motion states. “In other words, the agreed injunction limits Mike’s writings only in the sense that he is prevented from publishing anything that would not be protected free speech.”
Thomas Pickens III faces his own legal trouble, as he was sued in Travis County Court in February. He is accused of having “funneled” tens of millions of dollars from commercial space company Astrotech as CEO while mismanaging the company so badly its share price dropped by 89 percent.
Former CFO John Porter attributes the losses to Thomas Pickens’ breach of fiduciary duties, self-dealing, misappropriation of corporate assets and usurpation of corporate opportunities. Porter claims that Pickens was one of the highest paid CEOs in Austin but still billed the company for more than $100,000 for inappropriate personal expenses, in breach of company policy and his own employment agreement, “in return for which the company has received nothing of value.”
The Pickens family seek injunctive relief for invasion of privacy and violations of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
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