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Judge moves federal court hearing for Solar Titan USA defendants

Judge Clifton Corker agreed to continue the hearing. It is now set for Feb. 27 in Greeneville.

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — The defendants for Solar Titan USA will now appear before a federal judge on Feb. 27, court records show.

Both the Tennessee and Kentucky attorneys general filed a civil suit against the Knoxville-based solar power company for harming "hundreds" of customers in the Southeast.

U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Clifton Corker granted a temporary restraining order against the company and its leaders last week. A court-appointed receiver is currently in control of the company and its assets. A hearing to discuss the matter was originally set for February 15.

10News has investigated complaints against this company since last Spring.

Records show Sarah Kirkland and her husband planned to testify at that hearing.

"Defendant Kirkland anticipates that she will present testimony concerning her involvement with and role in the operations of Solar Titan and related entities and the roles of other people in its sales and management," a request from her attorney read. "She will testify regarding her knowledge of problems Solar Titan had, including representations made by sales personnel, processing of rescissions and refunds, installation delays, equipment failures, and other quality control issues."

She said she planned to testify about her "attempts to address these problems" and "her refusal to accept compensation from the company since September 2022 while she continued to work for the company in an attempt to serve its customers."

Her attorney, G. Alan Rawls of Knoxville, filed a motion to strike certain allegations on Feb. 13.

He argues the attorneys general "repeatedly lump Ms. Kirkland together with Defendants Craig Kelley and Richard Atnip ... to give the appearance that she, too, was using 'ill-gotten gains to purchase or lease expensive items.'"

He wrote the specific allegations "only implicate Kelley and Atnip in this regard."

He also said the attorneys general "needlessly impugn Ms. Kirkland’s compliance with the ethical standards of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners."

A separate filing argues "the government has thrown a wide net in their effort to protect consumers from what they allege are troublesome business practices of Defendant Ideal Horizon Benefits, LLC."

Meanwhile, Atnip and Kelley requested an extension to the hearing set for Feb. 15.

"The Individual Defendants will be extremely prejudiced without more time to prepare their defense to the Motion," their attorneys wrote. "The Individual Defendants already do not have sufficient time to conduct the written discovery or depositions of any of the individuals that submitted declarations in support of the Motion. Nor do the Individual Defendants have access to Defendant Solar Titan’s books and records, which would allow the Individual Defendants to obtain detailed information regarding the 216 consumer complaints relied on by Plaintiffs."

Judge Clifton Corker agreed to move the hearing to Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. in Greeneville due to "the expedited nature of the proceedings thus far and the likelihood of prejudice to Defendants."

Records show Kirkland disagreed, although she "acknowledges the 'incredibly quick turnaround' and the fact that the briefing schedule has 'proven exceptionally difficult to comply with.'" 

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