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.”Advertisement
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,2023-09-25 Order 1 Denying Motion to Amend Complaint 2 Granting Motion to Amend Scheduling Order
“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.”Advertisement
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:Big_City_Instagram_Post_Email_Thread_Redacted#8_231004_220040
“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.
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