OKANOGAN — There was no decision Friday in a lawsuit filed by nine Douglas County residents against Gov. Jay Inslee over his stay-at-home order.
The case was heard before Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Henry Rawson in Okanogan, because Douglas County commissioners Dan Sutton, Marc Straub and Kyle Steinberg are among the plaintiffs in the suit.
Rawson told the parties that should the case move forward as a group of individuals suing the governor, he will likely move it to Thurston County. But if the Chelan-Douglas Health District joined the suit as a plaintiff he would consider hearing the case in Okanogan County.
“It appears to this court that the proper parties are not here before the court,” Rawson said Friday morning. “When these individual residents of Douglas County go after the governor and such … they’re really bypassing the Chelan-Douglas County Health District, who I think should be a party.”
Rawson noted that some of the individual plaintiffs are board members on the health district.
“I went online and I checked the Chelan-Douglas Health District,” Rawson said. “I happened to see that a couple of the plaintiffs are on the board. Now, I see the declaration that there’s acknowledgement, but (the) declaration did not disclose that these commissioners were on the board.”
Friday’s hearing was continued from Tuesday, when Assistant Attorney General Zachary Jones contended Inslee’s stay-at-home order was issued in Thurston County and therefore should be heard in a Thurston County courtroom.
Jones claimed Inslee’s “action arose” in Thurston County.
Joel Ard, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the case should be heard locally because the actions of Inslee have had a direct impact on residents in Douglas County.
“Some part of the action arose in Douglas County, because some part of the harm is felt in Douglas County,” Ard said.
The next hearing has not been scheduled, but Ard said he plans to provide an update to Rawson (on whether the health district is willing to be added to the suit) by noon Monday, June 1.
The Douglas County case parallels a case filed in Chelan County last week.
Both suits seek immediate injunctive relief from Inslee’s ongoing state of emergency declaration.
The Chelan County hearing was scheduled to take place Tuesday in Chelan County Superior Court before Judge Travis Brandt, but he was disqualified from hearing the case at the attorney general’s request.
The case was then assigned to Judge Kristin Ferrera, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week.
In that case, too, the AG’s office requested it be moved to Thurston County.
The next hearing in the case will be in Chelan County at 2 p.m. Monday, June 1.
The Chelan-Douglas Board of Health will have a special meeting to discuss a possible application to move on to Phase 2 of reopening at 3 p.m. Monday.
The state Department of Health previous denied the district’s application to move to what the county health district called “Phase 1.5.”