WENATCHEE — A lawsuit to end Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 state of emergency order will go forward in Chelan County Superior Court.
A group of plaintiffs sued the governor almost two weeks ago to end the emergency order in an effort to allow Chelan and Douglas county officials to lead reopening of the local economy.
In her ruling Wednesday afternoon, Judge Kristin Ferrera said, “These harms that are alleged seem particularly unique to Chelan County because of how these proclamations touched the different counties differently with the different phases.”
Attorneys for Inslee have argued the case should be heard in Thurston County Superior Court because state law requires legal action against a public official to be heard in the county where the individual is in office. Inslee’s proclamations have all been issued in Thurston County.
“Venue is appropriate where the cause of action or any part thereof arose,” Ferrera said, reading the law. In her analysis of the law, she said, “The plain language meaning of what a ‘cause of action’ is is it requires that there not only has to be an act but also that act causes harm.”
She cited a case from 1920, Pratt v. Niagara Fire Insurance Company of New York, in which the state Supreme Court held that the venue could be in multiple counties because the cause of action isn’t just the act itself but harm also is a part of that cause of action.
“So, I think venue is appropriate here,” Ferrera said.
With the venue issue mostly settled — the Attorney General’s Office can challenge the ruling — the next portion of the lawsuit addresses the emergency order.
A hearing had not been scheduled as of Wednesday afternoon.