Idaho Dispatch

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New Insight Into the Big City Coffee vs. Boise State University Lawsuit

By • October 4, 2023

A new development emerged last week in the case of Big City Coffee suing Boise State University (BSU) over the closure of the coffee shop’s campus location in 2020.

An order was issued by Governor Brad Little’s recently appointed Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Cynthia Yee-Wallace denying a motion by Plaintiff Sarah Fendley, owner of Big City, to amend the complaint to re-name Boise State University president Marlene Tromp as a Defendant in the case.

Judge Cynthia Yee-Wallace

Tromp had originally been named in the suit, alongside three other BSU Administrators, for alleged violations of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights of Fendley. It was also alleged the BSU Administrators violated the Idaho Consumer Protection Act and interfered with Big City‘s contract with Aramark, the company that provided food services for BSU in 2020.

The lawsuit was originally filed on October 1, 2021. On October 28, 2021 Tromp’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss. The motion was granted on April 22, 2022. Court documents state,

“Plaintiff’s First Amendment violation claim was dismissed against Tromp because Plaintiffs failed to plead sufficient facts to sustain the claim against her.”

Fendley and Big City filed the motion to amend the complaint, adding Tromp back to the lawsuit due to a list of additional allegations, on August 7, 2023.

You can see the court filing in its entirety below. 12 separate additional allegations are listed, the final one explaining,

“Defendants’ actions…further evidence Defendants’ culpability in this matter. Tromp engaged in retaliatory actions and speech…. speaking to, at minimum, Defendants Estey and Webb, the students in Tromp’s class, Mayor Lauren McLean, former Boise Chief of Police Chief Ryan Lee, and members of the media. For example, within minutes of learning the outcome of the meeting from Estey, Tromp called Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, presumably in an attempt to have Holtry and Holland silenced. This temporal proximity further suggests Tromp was intimately involved in Plaintiffs’ removal from campus.”

2023-09-25 Order 1 Denying Motion to Amend Complaint 2 Granting Motion to Amend Scheduling Order

For some of the history on this story, Idaho Dispatch reported it here and here.

It appears the entire controversy surrounding Big City Coffee opening a shop on the BSU campus stemmed from this Snapchat post by BSU Student Body President Cheyon Sheen.

In response to Sheen’s Snapchat post, Fendley posted the following on Instagram:

The social media posts led to the following email chain between several members of student council, BSU administration, and an English Department Assistant discussing the removal of Big City from campus. One email came from the ASBSU Vice President at the time, a student named Cambree:

“Not only is this post harmful to students, especially our BIPOC students, it is extremely inappropriate and disparaging.

By allowing Big City to further uplift and promote the police, an institutional organization that has oppressed and marginalized BIPOC since their creation, it further inflicts harm and threatens the safety of BIPOC people across the entirety of our Boise State campus. Obviously, there is a written contract with the University that Big City must abide by, is social media activity disclosed anywhere in that contract? Is this a breach of contract? How will Big City be held accountable?

The University cannot sit by and let them get away with these actions. In the University’s official Statement of Diversity and Inclusion, the University commits to “the conscious and deliberate decision to continuously work towards the creation of an accepting and nurturing campus climate where similarities and differences are respected, supported, and valued by ensuring the active participation of the entire campus community”. In order to uphold these values and support the BIPOC students of our campus, a change must be made.”


Big City‘s BSU campus location was closed a short time later, and Fendley filed the $10 million lawsuit for violation of her Constitutional rights.

Idaho Dispatch is in possession of hundreds of documents related to this case. We will bring you additional aspects of this story in the near future.


Feature photo shows BSU President Marlene Tromp pictured with ASBSU Student Body President Cheyon Sheen at the Idaho Capitol.

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Tags: ASBSU, Big City Coffee, BIPOC, Black Lives Matter, BLM, Blue Lives Matter, Boise State University, BSU, Cheyon Sheen, Diversity and Inclusion, Lauren McLean, Marlene Tromp, Police, Ryan Lee, Sarah Fendley, Student Council, Thin Blue Line

11 thoughts on “New Insight Into the Big City Coffee vs. Boise State University Lawsuit

  1. Well, Chief Ryan Lee is long gone, let’s hope Marlene Tromp and Lauren McClean are booted out of Idaho permanently with a one way, no return ticket.

    Idahoans may want to ask just exactly where Little/Bedke stand on defending Sarah Fendley’s Rights and her getting fair compensation.

    Be diligent in who to vote for.

    1. Are you kidding? Bedke supported the ouster!

      Neither Bedke nor Little cares a bit about the Constitution of either the State or the Nation. We saw that during COVID.

  2. Little and Bedke won’t respond to any Idaho citizen, unless there is something in it for them which allows them keep Idaho’s Tammney Hall a well oiled machine.

    There will be no justice for Sarah Findley. Just look at the political theatrics happening in DC.

    Idaho isn’t red, It’s purple and like all other states considered conservative, it will likely flip to blue.

    1. I Hope that for Idaho’s sake that it doesn’t turn Blue. If you do not want it to turn Blue, you must ALL turn out to VOTE! Bring 10 people with you to vote. There has been a large influx of people moving into Idaho from other States, whether they know it or not, they are still influenced by the political influence of the state they left, even if they think they are conservative. Idaho Conservative is not Blue state Conservative, sorry. To those folks, yes, you consider yourself conservative, and we hope you vote conservative, however, it is easy to fall for the political animals whom “claim” conservatism to get elected, put into positions of power, yet then do nothing conservative. The people referenced in this article at BSU are far from conservative.

      1. I agree, vote them out if we can. But all these “conservatives” that complain about corruption, are in disbelief that “we” keep electing corrupt politicians, but deny that there is corruption in the voting process are a huge part of the problem. Somehow they can see plain as day all the corruption with things like Big City Coffee and the courts, etc., but think these same individuals are honest when it comes to the vote. The more people who vote, the harder it is to cheat, so, by all means, please vote, but also do your fellow citizens the favor of actually doing research outside legacy media and don’t be a fraud-denier.

  3. Couple things I notice here. First, the whole controversy with Big City came about because petty, vindictive women – Cambree, Sheen, Tromp – were in positions of leadership. Second thing is that in the picture at the top, Tromp looks like a mannish clown.

  4. This is a typical case of supporting your donors as is the case with Bedke and Little. they are not concerned about our Constitutional Rights and should have never been elected if not for big donors who expect payback in way of rulings./

  5. The prejudice against all police in the name of BIPOC is just that, prejudice. This is basic psychopathic group think in the email above by the student. The love of a wife for her shot 5 times husband defending the rest of us from a sociopath who shoots, murders, steals from, and maims the innocent tells the whole story. When they claim “inclusion” they mean extreme prejudice against crime victims and those who defend them. No inclusion for them. The victims of rape, attempted murder, kidnappings etc are to be victimized even further. As long as a BIPOC described “special” human being is killing, raping, and stealing from the innocent, those heinous actions are to be supported and unopposed. They also mean rather then prosecuting corrupt politicians and criminal cops you should just hate all cops while embracing tyrannical politicians without question. These BSU actions are hateful prejudice against a class of innocent people for the actions of criminals who get away with their crimes. They are the actions of cowards who are happy when the innocent are shot, raped, beaten, and murdered as long as it serves their political agenda.

    I have successfully helped the raped, beaten, and terrorized for 3 decades now with inpatient and outpatient hospital based therapeutic psychiatry and now EFT. I can’t begin to describe how many crime victims I have treated who discovered that while they are devastated by surviving unspeakable crimes they are treated with indifference, prejudice, and hatred by those around them. Their suffering is inconvenient for the political hacks in positions that pretend to by inclusive and helpful.

  6. If Idaho is to actually turn Conservative, it’s imperative that Little, Bedke, Winder, Tromp, McClean and oh so many more be booted out of Idaho’s Political arena immediately and permanently.

    Also, yes to the comment above: So many out of staters think they’re conservative and even join groups to promote ideology. Yet, yes many are so blinded by their previous state’s politics that they really can’t grasp what conservatism is.

    There’s an unwritten rule in Idaho: Until you’ve lived here 20 years, you’re not allowed to vote.

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