Boise State files for dismissal of $10 million Big City lawsuit over social justice

Boise State submitted a motion to dismiss Big City Coffee’s suit against the university and several administrators, BoiseDev reports.

The lawsuit alleges Boise State forced the closure of the Big City Coffee campus location due to Big City owner Sarah Jo Fendley’s support of police clashing with the university’s “aggressive social justice agenda.”

“Boise State University recognizes and supports every individual’s First Amendment rights regardless of the content of the speech.” Boise State said in a statement about the motion and supporting memorandum. “At no time did Boise State ask or “force” Big City Coffee to leave campus.”

Boise State asks for dismissal of the entire suit, which demands a jury trial and $10 million in damages, claiming Big City Coffee closed the shop voluntarily after the university did not side with them in the face of student complaints.

The university argues they had a legal obligation to remain unbiased and allow both Fendley and students to express their opinions.

“Big City Coffee made the decision to leave campus when the university refused — as it is obligated to do by law — to prohibit students from lawfully exercising their First Amendment right to disagree with the owner’s viewpoints,” Boise State said in their statement.

Big City contends that Boise State committed a “fraud of omission” and did not inform them of opposition to the Big City location coming to campus.

Boise State’s motion for dismissal states that the lawsuit is too “factually lacking” to consider, and does not provide any evidence that the University stopped Big City from exercising their first amendment rights.

Students with Boise State’s Inclusive Excellence Student Council initially objected to a Big City Coffee location on campus because Big City owner Fendley flew the Thin Blue Line flag at her Grove St. Big City location. 

Fendley says she flies this flag in support of law enforcement, but this symbol has also been used by white supremacists and in opposition of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Judge Cynthia Yee-Wallace will rule on the motion for dismissal in the coming weeks.

Photo by Drew Marshall

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