Fauntleroy Place updates: Lawsuit response; land-use decision

3 weeks after we brought you first word of lawsuits filed over the stalled Fauntleroy Place project (Fauntleroy/Alaska/39th, future Whole Foods), the site’s owners have filed their response to one of the suits, the one filed by Christopher NeVan‘s BAJ Capital against Fauntleroy Place LLC and stakeholder Seattle Capital (read the suit here). Without much elaboration, the response denies most of the allegations/statements in the lawsuit; the most words of denial come in this passage toward the end of the six-page response:

… Defendants hereby allege the following affirmative defenses:

1. Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
2. Plaintiff has unclean hands
3. Defendants have fully performed all contractual obligations
4. Plaintiff’s alleged damages are the result of actions by third parties
5. Complete relief cannot be granted without joining at least one additional party
6. Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the doctrines of waiver and estoppel
7. Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the doctrine of laches
8. Plaintiff has failed to mitigate its damages
9. Defendant had business justifications for the alleged actions

And with that, the defendants ask for dismissal. (Wondering about some of those legal terms? We were. Here’s an explanation for “unclean hands”; here’s one for estoppel; here’s one for laches.) Meantime, you can read the entire six-page document here. We checked, but there’s no similar document available online yet in connection with the other lawsuit, which BlueStar filed against Fauntleroy Place and Seattle Capital. Meantime, one other development: Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin includes the decision officially finalizing design-review approval for the project, following design changes last summer (here’s our coverage of the final Design Review meeting last August). You can read the decision linked from this page, which also explains any appeals must be filed by April 19th. (Still no official word on the site sale reportedly in the works as of two months ago.)

18 Replies to "Fauntleroy Place updates: Lawsuit response; land-use decision"

  • seven April 6, 2009 (8:03 pm)

    The Answer is merely a response to a complaint (the first pleading brought by the plaintiff) denying or admitting allegations. It would be unwise for the Defendant to deny with detail any of the charges brought against them (much less admit them).

    Affirmative defenses are not denials however. They are merely grounds to justify or excuse the allegations. They are often thrown in just because because. Only using nine is being rather conservative.

    You should post a pdf of the complaint to see what the specific allegations are.

  • CB April 6, 2009 (8:21 pm)

    I wonder what it costs per day for that hole in the ground? I bet they spent a least a million dollars digging it.

    Law suits take months or years to settle…. sadly we’re going to have to get used to our big hole.

  • wseye April 6, 2009 (9:44 pm)

    I interpret these legal actions as strategic maneuvering. If Seattle Capital does indeed have a potential buyer, then the lawsuits by Bluestar and BAJ “poison” the deal and would likely prevent it. My guess is that is the reason Seattle Capital is now trying to have those suits dismissed. It is all about positioning by the parties toward a settlement of some kind. I think that is the only way that this project has a chance of moving in the near future. If there is no settlement, the legal battle could last for years. However, it usually doesn’t go that far, so there is hope.

  • WSB April 6, 2009 (10:54 pm)

    Seven, I did, when it was first available three weeks ago, and it’s repeated in this item – “read the suit here” (“here” is hotlinked to the full complaint) – TR

  • transplantella April 7, 2009 (1:00 am)

    I’ve been sort of following the ‘Hole’ story since I was looking forward to having a Whole Foods here, and the entire rest of that neighborhood is such a gutted eyesore.

    But I don’t get it–at all. I don’t know who owns what or why it’s being sold when there is nothing to sell, or who is being sued by sued by who for what.

    If somebody understands this situation could you please explain it in simple terms that I can understand?

  • WSB April 7, 2009 (1:30 am)

    We’ve reported it sequentially. Yes, there is something to sell — a very valuable site, with plans for a potentially lucrative project, for which site work was well under way. Two lawsuits have been filed against the site’s current owner, “Fauntleroy Place LLC,” and the financial company that owns most of it.
    One was filed by BlueStar, the development company that was supposed to be overseeing the project, but alleges it was maneuvered out — first losing its ownership stake, then being terminated as developer.
    BlueStar says it hasn’t been paid since last year and wants the money it’s entitled to for the work it’s done.
    The other, which is the one mentioned above, was filed by an original ownership partner in the project, BAJ Capital, owned by West Seattle-based Christopher NeVan. That suit, summarized here:
    also claims he was more or less aced out of the project and is seeking compensation.
    The site’s current owners spoke with us once before all this court action came up, when news broke that they apparently had a buyer in the works:
    Since then, they have not commented publicly on the status of the sale. We are continuing to watch public records, which may in the end be the only proof if/when one happens.

  • ivegot it April 7, 2009 (8:08 am)

    Hell, let’s throw our grievances into the ring! I think the residents of West Seattle should get together and sue all of them for not finishing what they started and leaving a Godforsaken mess at the entry to West Seattle!

    They left us with a gigantic hole that won’t be filled for many years that is an absolute danger to residents and animals in the community (the fences won’t hold everything back forever). The beautiful landscaping that was put in on that corner a few years back has been decimated by the fences so even its not able to thrive and look beautiful like it did.

    If its going to be like this for 10 years it would be nice if we could ‘decorate’ the mess the way we see fit.

    It’s really sad seeing the complete lack of life there w/Huling Bros. gone etc and now this. I chock our end of the suit up to PAIN AND SUFFERING!

  • kittylove April 7, 2009 (9:50 am)

    this post looks like greek to me….

    sooooo….is the whole foods still coming?

  • WSB April 7, 2009 (9:56 am)

    They say yes. But somebody has to build the store first.

  • 100KSSD4WS April 7, 2009 (10:06 am)

    I say we filled it with water, it would be one hell of a pool for WS.

  • nuni April 7, 2009 (10:37 am)

    I like 100’s solution!

  • B April 7, 2009 (10:49 am)

    This is just lame. I was walking by yesterday looking at the torn banners on the fence and the wind screens falling down. They should at least have to keep the site “tidy” while they work this out.

  • miws April 7, 2009 (12:12 pm)

    Maybe. at least for the time being, Whole Foods should open up there, as the site now is.


    Then, as others have suggested in previous stories, it would literally be “Hole Foods”! :D



  • WSB April 7, 2009 (12:13 pm)

    Note that we have published another update – I heard back today from a rep for the site’s main owner:

  • jeannie April 7, 2009 (1:14 pm)

    What the heck does “Plaintiff has unclean hands” mean? Figuratively or literally? If the latter, perhaps because all parties are digging a hole.

    P.S. I agree with “ivegot it.”

  • WSB April 7, 2009 (1:28 pm)

    That’s why I included the links above to the definitions of those legal terms – that’s a legal term, and figurative – TR

  • Big Al (No, Not THAT One) April 8, 2009 (9:42 pm)

    Well said, “seven — April 6, 09 8:03 pm.” WSB, it is interesting to hear from a non-lawyer’s perspective how arcane the affirmative defenses part of the ‘answer’ seem. Lawyers all too often assert these and as “severn” correcly points out, perhaps many more, particularly the lsst scrupulous lawyers. I mean, after all, pleading something without basis is frivolous, which could get the lawyer in hot water (though that’s unlikely, frankly — which is why lawyers tend to take the ‘spaghetti’ approach by asserting reams of these ‘affirmative defenses’ — the idea is, throw lots of it up and see what sticks).

    I’ll try to sum these up with a comment about each:

    “1. Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted”

    — this means the case is so lacking (in that it has not even stated a proper legal basis to even entitle the plaintiff to obtain a recovery) that it should be dismissed

    “2. Plaintiff has unclean hands”

    — this means the plaintiff cannot get equitable rememdies because the plaintiff did bad things (i.e., has “unclean hands”). The theory of “unclean hands” is that if you want the court to give you something in equity (an example of a rememdy in equity is an order from the court telling the other paty to do something, aka “specific performance”), you must yourself have “clean hands” or, more plainly, you must not come with some pretty unseemly baggage. Thanks “jeannie — April 7, 09 1:14 pm” for the laugh and the good question, and you’re right; too much Latin and weird terms like “unclean hands” makes lawyers seem dorkishly pedantic.

    “3. Defendants have fully performed all contractual obligations”

    — this means they think the plaintinff cannot get anything under the contract because the defendants have already doen all they’re supposed to — i.e., they have “performed all contractual obligations.”

    “4. Plaintiff’s alleged damages are the result of actions by third parties”

    — this means, ‘hey, don’t look at us — someone else caused the harm you are trying to get us to pay for.’

    “5. Complete relief cannot be granted without joining at least one additional party”

    — this argues that the defendants are lonely at this lawsuit party, and they think the plaintiff should have invited someone else (but the defendants don’t want to say who — the sneaky rascals!)

    “6. Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the doctrines of waiver and estoppel”

    — ahhh….Latin! Where would lawyers be without the dead language? OK, “waiver” is the knowing and voluntary decision to forego something, and “estoppel” …. well, WSB gave a link for that already.

    “7. Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the doctrine of laches”

    — More fun Latin (or at least I thnk it’s Latin.) In any event, WSB kindly linked to a definition for this. Honstly, why can’t lawyers just say what they mean so other people understand them?

    “8. Plaintiff has failed to mitigate its damages”

    — this is like sayingto a kid who sues you for giving him the wrong flavor of ice cream in an ice cream cone, “hey kid, you can’t get a full new scoop back because after you took a lick, instead of coming inside and returning the cone, you stood in thhe sun and let it melt.” (OK, well, that’s not so great … but the point is, the defendants think the plaintiff should have done something to prevent themselves from sufferin the harm they are claiming the defendants are now respnsibel for. And again, here too the rascal defendant counsel are too fraidy cat to say exactly what it is they think the plaintiff failed to do or how it could have purportedly made a difference!)

    And last:

    “9. Defendant had business justifications for the alleged actions”

    — ahhh. The old “I had a darn good reason for what I did” defense. Like the defendants needed to hire a lawyer to say that?

  • WSB April 8, 2009 (9:57 pm)

    Thanks, BA. Legal analysis sorely needed … if my lawyer mom were still around (gone 10 years) I’d probably be leaning on her for some! – TR

Sorry, comment time is over.