Amelia Powell (left), who has worked as a bikini barista, and Derek Newman (right), who has been representing the Everett baristas in their federal civil rights lawsuit, seen here in November 2017 in Seattle. Newman in May 2018 sought to leave the case. (Rikki King / The Herald)

Amelia Powell (left), who has worked as a bikini barista, and Derek Newman (right), who has been representing the Everett baristas in their federal civil rights lawsuit, seen here in November 2017 in Seattle. Newman in May 2018 sought to leave the case. (Rikki King / The Herald)

Bikini baristas’ lawyer seeks to bow out of Everett lawsuit

Derek Newman says his clients aren’t listening to him or paying their legal bills.

EVERETT — The Everett bikini baristas face a new challenge in their legal battle: Their lawyer wants out.

Seattle attorney Derek Newman says the baristas aren’t listening to him or paying him as promised, according to paperwork filed May 24. Newman is seeking a judge’s permission to leave the case.

“There has been a substantial breakdown in the attorney-client relationship … ” he wrote. “(They) have declined material advice from counsel. This is their prerogative, but it makes representation difficult.”

The baristas have been fighting with the city of Everett since filing a federal lawsuit in September. That followed the city passing legislation banning their business model. Most of the arguments in court have been focused on how much or how little clothing the employees can wear, and if such rules violate their civil rights.

In December, a U.S. District Court judge approved a temporary ban on Everett enforcing the rules until the lawsuit was resolved. The city then asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the ban, also known as a preliminary injunction.

The dress code requires quick service employees to wear clothing that covers the upper and lower body. (City of Everett)

The dress code requires quick service employees to wear clothing that covers the upper and lower body. (City of Everett)

That step led to the parties meeting to discuss a potential settlement, with a gathering scheduled May 7. The mediation was unsuccessful, the city later told the court.

In his motion to withdraw, Newman said he had warned his clients in person about the unpaid bills and suggested they find another attorney. His firm is out thousands of dollars, he said.

His main concerns are with one of the clients, who has ties to the bikini barista business. That client is not named as a plaintiff, unlike the Hillbilly Hotties owner, Jovanna Edge, and several of her employees.

Newman could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Edge referred questions to a spokesman, Schuyler Lifschultz. He said a new attorney, an appeals specialist from California, should be added to the case in the coming days.

“Not only is this not going away but we’re bringing in the proverbial big guns,” he said.

Newman’s motion said he expects the court to extend the June 25 deadline for the baristas to respond to the city’s appeal.

_________

This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Rikki King can be reached at 425-339-3449 or rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

[flipp]

More in Northwest

Bret Chiafalo. File photo
Supreme Court says state can punish WA faithless electors

Justices: Presidential electors, including Everett man, must keep pledge to back popular vote winner

Gov. Jay Inslee issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2. File photo
Buffets and salad bars back on the menu in King County

Gov. Jay Inslee has revised rules to allow self-serve food areas in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.

State regulators keep Puget Sound Energy rates steady

Rate adjustments ease economic impact during COVID-19 pandemic

Brian Tilley (left) and Katie Dearman work the wash station Friday at Kate’s Greek American Deli in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Governor’s no-mask, no-service order begins across Washington

“Just do not ring up the sale,” Gov. Jay Inslee said about customers who do not don the proper masks.

King County homeless count: 11,751 people, up 5 percent from 2019

One night a year, volunteers spread out across Seattle and King County… Continue reading

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

AG Ferguson wants to require law enforcement statewide to report all uses of deadly force

Report to Legislature recommends centralized, easily accessible statewide website on incidents

Most Read