Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-2-17523-6. Date filed: 02/08/96. Judge signing: Hon. James W. Bates Jr.
Authored by Walter E. Webster. Concurring: H. Joseph Coleman, Mary K. Becker.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Webster
WEBSTER, J. -- David Schaible appeals from a summary judgment order in favor of the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority ("PDA"). He argues that Washington's Public Disclosure Act *fn1 compels the PDA to release all leases executed between the PDA and its commercial tenants in their entirety. The PDA, however, asserts that Schaible is collaterally estopped from challenging its decision to only partially disclose its leases because he did not intervene in an identical action pending when he requested the leases.
We hold that because Schaible failed to intervene in this prior litigation, in which he actively participated, he is collaterally estopped from challenging the PDA's partial disclosure of its commercial leases. Because the PDA prevails as a matter of law, summary judgment was appropriate.
The PDA is a public agency charged with managing the Pike Place Market. The PDA must govern the Market with an eye toward preserving its traditional character. The PDA's Charter mandates that it: (1) expand the sale of local farm produce; (2) preserve and expand the residential community, especially for low-income persons; and (3) promote the survival of small shops and marginal businesses, essential to the functioning of the Market. The PDA may conduct studies and research to carry out these purposes.
As part of its business, the PDA regularly negotiates and executes commercial leases. Much study and research is performed concerning the Market's commercial leases and is then used to negotiate with each of its commercial tenants. The PDA developed and published negotiation guidelines that detail the PDA's philosophy regarding lease negotiations. The guidelines also include a policy of keeping negotiations and tenant identities confidential.
Between March 1, and April 7, 1995, Gary Franco, a daystall tenant, *fn2 made ten separate requests for public information of the PDA. In his requests, Franco sought a variety of documents, including daystall permits, daily rent receipts, and commercial leases. Franco was involved in a dispute with the PDA because his daystall permit was revoked. Franco sued, and in his pleadings to the trial court he specifically challenged the PDA's response to his request under the Public Disclosure Act.
David Schaible was also a Market daystall tenant. He and Franco became friends. As a member of the PDA Council, the PDA's governing body, Schaible was aware of Franco's dispute with the PDA. Schaible discussed the subject of Franco's litigation with him. He also accompanied Franco to the University of Washington Law Library and assisted him with legal research. He provided Franco with copies of commercial leases he obtained from his own public information request of the City of Seattle and King County. The two discussed litigation strategy, and Schaible advised Franco that he retain a lawyer. But Franco declined and proceeded pro se.
Schaible also attended Franco's mandamus hearing before Judge Downing. At the hearing, he addressed the court and allied himself with Franco.
At the close of the hearing and after an in camera review of sample leases provided by the PDA, the trial court found that the Public Disclosure Act's exemptions applied and the commercial leases need only be provided to Franco after redacting tenant identifying information. The court sealed the original, non-redacted copies of the PDA's leases in case of appeal, but Franco did not appeal the court's ruling.
While Franco's litigation was pending, David Schaible also requested copies of all commercial leases executed between the PDA and its commercial tenants. The PDA ultimately responded to Schaible's request with copies of redacted leases. The redacted items identified or could identify the lessee, consistent with Judge Downing's order in the Franco litigation.
Schaible brought this action to compel the PDA to disclose the Market's commercial leases in their entirety.
Summary judgment is appropriate only where there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. *fn3 A trial court's summary judgment order is reviewed de novo, considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. *fn4 Because we find that Schaible is estopped from bringing this action, the PDA is ...