Judge partially dismisses Big City Coffee lawsuit against Boise State University

Photo by Drew Marshall

Fourth District Judge Cynthia Yee-Wallace ruled to dismiss Big City Coffee’s $10 million lawsuit against Boise State and university president Marlene Tromp. 

The decision was published on April 22, nearly three months after attorneys representing Boise State University and Big City Coffee met to discuss the case’s dismissal in the Fourth District Court on Jan. 28.

According to BoiseDev, Yee-Wallace dismissed claims for monetary damages against Boise State and the university administrators because, while protected by the Eleventh Amendment,  they have immunity from certain lawsuits and cannot in their official capacities be sued for said damages.

Additionally, part of the rationale for this decision was that as an arm of the state, Boise State University cannot be sued as a “person,” according to Yee-Wallace.

However, the judge’s ruling found that because of claims that Fendley’s business was treated differently than other contractors and vendors on campus because of her political speech, Big City Coffee can argue its Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated.

The lawsuit has potential to move ahead against Vice President for University Affairs and Chief of Staff Alicia Estey, Vice President for Equity Initiatives Francisco Salinas and Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Leslie Webb as it would be “premature” to dismiss part of the suit at this time, according to Yee-Wallace.

Michael Roe, Fendley’s attorney, must file an amended complaint before May 27 in order for the case to move ahead. Boise State must respond to the new complaint by June 24.

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