Days after its CEO resigned amid scrutiny into a past sexual-assault allegation, Portland cannabis extract company Cura filed a $10 million lawsuit today against the people running an online campaign to publicize that accusation.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, says the anonymous Twitter and Instagram accounts were orchestrated by a competitor as an attempt to harm the company's bottom line.
WW reported this morning that Cura CEO Nitin Khanna resigned last month amid renewed scrutiny into his settlement of a civil suit by a woman who said he assaulted her in 2012. He settled the $2.3 million lawsuit in 2014 for an undisclosed amount. He was never criminally charged.
The Oregonian first reported Cura's lawsuit this afternoon.
Some of the specific anonymous accusations revived online—that Khanna "has a history of sexual assault charges" and "rape charges"—are "demonstratably false, defamatory and made with malicious intent," the lawsuit states.
Cura initially said in a press release that "personal allegations" against Khanna had become "a distraction for the company's mission."
But new CEO and president Cameron Forni tells WW the resignation stems from an alleged "campaign by a competitor to harm our company." Forni declined to identify the rival company. The lawsuit says Khanna resigned "due to the distractions behind this malicious campaign."
But the lawsuit doesn't identify any specific competitor as the one targeting it. Instead, it accuses unnamed "doe defendants" of defaming the company online and through emails and phone calls to at least nine of Cura's retail partners.
Anonymous people set up Instagram and Twitter accounts under the names @selectceorapist – Select Oil is one of Cura's brands of vape oil cartridges. When the tech companies shut those accounts down, the anonymous posters carried on under the handle @selectceorapist2, according to the complaint. Using these accounts, someone called for a boycott of Cura's products, encouraging followers to "vote with your wallet," the lawsuit states.
And it's working, Cura claims. Some retailers and customers have stopped buying Cura's products in response, the company claims. Cura claims its lawsuit will unmask those responsible.
Cura's attorney, Steven Feldman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.