Benton County judge strikes motions in Arlene's Flowers case

Tri-City HeraldJuly 17, 2013 

A Benton County judge on Wednesday struck down motions filed by each side in the discrimination case involving a Richland florist, saying the issues can again come before the court if properly filed.

Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers, was in Superior Court for the continuation of a June hearing.

Stutzman and her longtime business are being sued by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson for refusing to provide flowers at the upcoming wedding of a gay couple. Robert Ingersoll, who'd been a customer for nine years, was turned down by Stutzman because of her religious beliefs, which the state says violates the Consumer Protection Act.

Wednesday's hearing only dealt with the state case against the florist, and not a separate lawsuit filed by Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed.

Judge Sal Mendoza Jr. denied a state request to strike affirmative defenses -- dealing with whether the state has standing or jurisdiction to bring the case -- because it was filed late. And he denied the defense from bringing in Ferguson himself in as a defendant, saying the motion didn't comply with court rules.

The case is not yet set for trial.

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