SALT LAKE CITY — A Midway man once charged under Utah's commercial terrorism statute is now suing the Wasatch County law enforcement and prosecutors who brought the case against him.
Scott Jay Eckersley, 40, was accused in 2015 of taking scores of free tourism brochures out of stands owned by a competitor and replacing them with his own materials. He was charged in June 2015 with four counts of commercial obstruction, a second-degree felony.
Eckersley resolved the case through a deal with prosecutors two months later, entering a plea in abeyance to two class A misdemeanor charges of commercial obstruction. Once Eckersley had paid court costs, completed anger management and "thinking errors" programs, and kept his record clean for 18 months, the two misdemeanor counts were dismissed.
Now Eckersley has filed a lawsuit seeking $1.5 million as well as additional punitive damages from a Wasatch County sheriff's lieutenant, two prosecutors and the county.
Representatives from the Wasatch County Attorney's Office did not immediately return calls for comment.
Eckersley's claim, filed Thursday, alleges the case against him did irreparable harm to his reputation and his advertising business; violated rights protected by both the Utah the U.S. constitutions; and caused "continuing extreme mental and emotional anguish, outrage, trauma, distress, relationship difficulties, lost income and expenditure of attorney's fees."
According to Eckersley's lawsuit, the term "commercial terrorism" had been amended to "commercial obstruction" in Utah statute five years earlier, and police and prosecutors using the phrase turned the case into a media sensation.
Prior to the case in Utah, Eckersley had previously made headlines in Missouri.4 comments on this story
In September 2007, then-Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt fired Eckersley from his position as Blunt's deputy chief counsel, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Eckersley responded by suing Blunt and four of his aides, alleging defamation and wrongful termination.
Eckersley claimed in court records that he was fired and subsequently persecuted for warning his superiors that deleting their emails might constitute a violation of Missouri's open records laws. In May 2009, he settled the lawsuit for $500,000, according to media reports.
After the settlement, Eckersley ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Missouri in 2010.