Businesses, residents suing the City of Seattle over CHOP denied class action certification

May 10, 2022, 10:37 AM | Updated: 11:11 am
Cal Anderson Park in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone on June 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A U.S. District Court judge has denied class action certification to the group of Capitol Hill property owners suing the City of Seattle over alleged endorsement of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) — the area around Cal Anderson Park that was abandoned by the East Precinct following protests over the murder of George Floyd.

Plaintiffs in the case are business and property owners in the 16-block portion of Capitol Hil formerly enveloped by CHOP, alleging that the City “actively endorsed, enabled, and encouraged the occupation,” the judge’s order reads.

Following SPD’s departure from the area, the property owners cite deteriorating health and safety conditions in Capitol Hill between June and July 2020: two fatal shootings, rape, robbery, and obstruction of vehicle access using the concrete barriers SPD left behind were reported in the area.

That increase in crime culminated in SPD’s designation of CHOP as a “red zone,” meaning dispatch was limited to high casualty events, for example, mass shootings.

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Plaintiffs allege that they suffered numerous economic and non-economic injuries as a result of the City’s actions, including reduced property values, extensive property damage, reduced access to emergency services, public safety dangers, exposure to excessive noise, and an inability to use and access their properties.

The plaintiffs ultimately failed to meet several criteria to reach class-action certification. A commonality within the judge’s reasoning was the differences among the accusations and damage descriptions the individual plaintiffs are leveling against the City.

For example, not every business involved in the lawsuit was open during CHOP’s existence. Unicorn was closed due to COVID at the time, and the City, according to the defense’s oral arguments, will argue that the damages the business incurred were related to the closure, not CHOP.

With the judge’s denial, the 17 plaintiffs will now file a joint status report to identify the next steps for case management.

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Businesses, residents suing the City of Seattle over CHOP denied class action certification