Boise State’s request for the dismissal of Big City Coffee lawsuit goes to court

Attorneys representing Boise State University and Big City Coffee met in the Fourth District Court on Jan. 28 to debate the possible dismissal of the lawsuit against Boise State.

In October 2021, Big City Coffee filed a $10 million lawsuit, claiming the university forcibly removed the shop from its campus based on an “aggressive social justice agenda.”

Coffee shop owner Sarah Jo Fendley argued her business was mistreated due to her support of law enforcement and her relationship with a former police officer during the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

Less than a month later, Boise State filed a motion requesting that Judge Cynthia Yee-Wallace dismiss the suit over lack of factual evidence.

According to Boise Dev, Fendley had asked Boise State to defend the business from students who criticized the coffee shop for its support of law enforcement amidst protests against police brutality. Boise State’s attorney Trudy Hanson Fouser responded saying the university could not infringe on the students’ freedom of speech.

“Because there are no facts of university employees doing anything to infringe on her right to free speech, the plaintiff is using this complaint to build anger and possibly hate against the university,” Fouser told the judge. “This document might generate anger against a public university, but it falls short over and over as a legal document.”

Mike Roe, Fendley’s attorney, argued that Boise State pressured Fendley to sign paperwork saying the end of their relationship was mutual despite her beliefs that her business was being removed from campus against her will, according to an article by Boise Dev.

“The defendants’ mistreatment of my clients can only be understood if one appreciates Boise State University’s aggressive social justice agenda and the individual institutional biases exhibited by these defendants,” Roe said.

Roe pushed for the case to move ahead, wanting for a full jury trial.

The decision on whether the case will move ahead is expected after Feb. 11.

Big City Coffee location from 2020
[Photo of a student outside the Big City Coffee location that was on Boise State’s campus in fall 2020]
Photo by Drew Marshall | The Arbiter

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