(Olympia, WA) — Citing the state’s anti-SLAPP statute, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday morning that five Olympia Food Co-op members must pay defendants $160,000 in damages.
Judge Thomas McPhee ordered plaintiffs Jeffrey and Susan Trinin, Kent and Linda Davis, and Susan Mayer to pay $10,000 to each of the 16 defendants, plus attorney’s fees.
A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation suit is defined as a case that uses the courts to attempt to stifle free speech. The plaintiffs had sued the co-op’s board of directors for its 2010 decision to boycott Israeli products, citing the co-op’s failure to follow its posted bylaws.
The settlement follows the court’s ruling in February of this year, which favored the defendants’ special motion to strike and their claim that the suit was an attack on their First Amendment rights.
In July 2010, the Olympia Food Co-op board enacted a boycott of Israeli goods after a presentation by community activists supportive of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement at a board meeting, even though the staff had not come to a consensus. According to the co-op’s boycott policy, boycotts must have staff consensus before being brought to the board. The plaintiffs claim the board acted beyond the scope of its authority.