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Capitol Hill real estate companies and small businesses argue ‘deliberate indifference’ in CHOP lawsuit update

The legal fight between the City of Seattle and a group of Capitol Hill real estate developers, property owners, and small businesses over CHOP continues with a decision over whether  the class action lawsuit should be dismissed in the hands of a federal judge.

Lawyers representing Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital and the real estate and business group of plaintiffs responded last week to the Seattle City Attorney’s bid to have the case dismissed with an argument countering the city’s position that you can’t sue over a city’s “inaction” to protest.

“It was foreseeable that local residents and businesses would suffer harm if the City provided barriers and supportive services to an indefinite and unpermitted gathering of thousands of people in public streets and sidewalks, and then made public declarations of support for those in the area,” lawyers at the Calfo Eakes argued in the filing in U.S. District Court last week. “It was also foreseeable that vandalism, property damage, and other crimes would skyrocket if the City facilitated such an occupation by modifying its public-safety response to not enter the area. And the City knew it was happening and did not intervene.”

The group of businesses and plaintiffs are seeking to establish a class action against the city with damages to be determined if the legal process moves forward.

The attorneys say a “deliberate indifference” argument counters the effort from Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes to have the case dismissed. “The plaintiffs simply do not, and cannot, allege that any City action directly injured them,” Holmes wrote in the motion to dismiss. “Rather, they complain of City inaction.”

The plaintiff attorneys counter that the city “acted with full knowledge that its actions would and did harm residents, business owners, and property owners.”

“The City was inundated with formal and informal complaints, lawsuits, and tort claims, and the City repeatedly acknowledged that its actions caused crime and vandalism to increase in the area,” the response to the motion reads. “Yet the City let the situation exist for nearly a month before it finally decided to cease its support for CHOP.”

In an update to the motion, the City Attorney contends the case should also be dismissed because the group of real estate companies and small businesses “do not identify a particular risk that the City intended to expose them to.”

“Plaintiffs appear to argue that the City can be deliberately indifferent to a neighborhood where the City is aware of a general risk of increased crime or ongoing crime,” the filing from Holmes’s office reads. “That is not the law. Plaintiffs’ theory would remove governmental discretion in law enforcement and require the City to act whenever laws were violated or face liability.”

CHS first reported in late June on the lawsuit led by Capitol Hill-based developer Hunters Capital seeking to be determined financial damages for a group of businesses in the Pike/Pine and 12th Ave areas around CHOP. The list of plaintiffs has now grown. It includes developers Hunters Capital, Redside Partners and Madrona Real Estate, businesses Cafe Argento, Northwest LiquorBergman’s Lock and Key, Car Tender, Tattoos and Fortune, Sage Physical Therapy, Richmark Label, and property owners including Onyx Homeowners Association as well as a handful of individual residents. After CHOP’s clearance, E Pine’s Rancho Bravo, 12th and Pike’s Sway and Cake boutique, and Nagle’s Cure cocktail bar joined the roster.

While the City Attorney’s office had asked for oral arguments over the motion to dismiss last week, federal judge Hon. Thomas S. Zilly did not request a hearing. A spokesperson for the City Attorney’s office said Zilly could still make the request or rule on the city’s motion based on the written arguments.

The next deadline in the case procedures is scheduled for mid September.


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Random Person
Random Person
4 months ago

Anyone want to start boycotting these businesses with us?

Glenn
Glenn
4 months ago
Reply to  Random Person

Nope. If I could frequent them more, I would.

Hugh T. Saffel III
Hugh T. Saffel III
4 months ago
Reply to  Glenn

Me too.

RWK
RWK
4 months ago
Reply to  Glenn

Me too.

Tom
Tom
4 months ago
Reply to  Glenn

Yeah, like you’re going to get a tattoo or start renting an apartment.

Retailers and restaurants got hurt a lot more by covid19 and recession.

Fat Man
Fat Man
4 months ago
Reply to  Glenn

Would you mind explaining why you want to support businesses that are suing our city? Are you by any chance wealthy and white?! *gasp!*

Javier
Javier
4 months ago
Reply to  Random Person

Nah, I’m sick of you malcontents. I’ll be sure to get a burrito at Rancho Bravo this week.

Adam
Adam
4 months ago

Deliberate indifference is kind of Seattle’s thing

Whichever
Whichever
4 months ago

How many of these businesses welcomed and supported the ‘protestors’ until it predictably turned ugly and also predictably hurt their business when non-protest customers avoided the area – and now are ironically suing the City. Want it both ways, huh?

Fat Man
Fat Man
4 months ago
Reply to  Whichever

Preach!

Random Person
Random Person
4 months ago
Reply to  Whichever

Well if I was an SMB owner at CHOP, I would also support protesters, basically under coercion.

E
E
4 months ago

I live a few blocks from CHOP. Call any of us to the stand to testify. What the mayor and city council did was reckless, biased, dangerous, and irresponsible. Anyone with a little common sense knew how dangerous it was to support a violentob while they destroyed the neighborhood and threatened it’s tax tax paying and law abiding residents. do you think I could walk down there right now and just start painting buildings without being arrested? Do you think I could just walk down there and block off the street and they would arrest me? What day did shows intent and bias. the mayor and the city council need to be held accountable for the violence, the damage, and the death that they allowed