Attorney sanctioned in case against Low Income Housing Institute

— Created November 23, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Island County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Cliff has ordered the attorney representing the group Freeland Concerned Citizens to pay $10,000 to the Low Income Housing Institute.

Randall Thiel, who represented FCC in its action against LIHI and LIHI Harbor Inn, sought a preliminary injunction to stop LIHI from purchasing the Harbor Inn Motel for use as supportive and bridge housing for those who meet certain income requirements.

The preliminary injunction was denied in August and the case was dismissed without prejudice in September. LIHI, however, requested sanctions of nearly $100,000 to cover attorneys’ fees for the litigation.

In a ruling issued by the court Nov. 17, Cliff wrote “The Court is simply not persuaded that an award of almost $100,000 for the cost to defend a lawsuit that the plaintiff sought to dismiss little more than a month after it was filed is merited in the circumstances before it.”

The court, however, did find that a statement made in court documents on behalf of FCC that LIHI was responsible for the death of a man at the Harbor Inn on Aug. 2 without any supporting evidence, was “egregious.”

“Mr. Thiel signed the pleading in which these remarks appear, and in this Court’s judgement, sanctions under Civil Rule 11 for them are properly imposed on Mr. Thief,” reads the ruling. “The Court will impose a monetary sanction of $10,000 against Randall Thiel.”