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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Wash. judge hears arguments in AG's discrimination lawsuit

By Mark Payne | Dec 8, 2014

PROSSER, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - Benton County, Wash., Judge Alex Ekstrom listened to motions on Friday as part of a lawsuit against Arlene's Flowers and its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, brought by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson that alleges discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

Ferguson's office filed the suit in 2013 after Stutzman allegedly refused to provide flowers to Robert Ingersoll, who was planning to marry his partner, Curt Freed. Stutzman allegedly refused to provide the flowers because she disagreed with same-sex marriage.

Washington law states that businesses can't discriminate against a customer based on sexual orientation, which was outlined in a letter to Stutzman before the suit was filed. 

The motions heard by Ekstrom seek to validate if Stutzman can be found responsible under the Consumer Protection Act, and whether or not the attorney general can bring this case against her.

The Attorney General's Office argued that deceptive acts that happen in commerce, or unfair acts, give the attorney general's office the right to take authority. The State also argued that the Consumer Protection Act holds a person liable for deceptive business practices or unfair business practices.

Ekstrom has yet to rule on the motions. 

The State is seeking a permanent injunction against Stutzman that would require her to comply with the Consumer Protection Act. 

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