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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Developers Seek To Intervene In 3 Lawsuits River Park Square’s Attorney, Eugster Trade Claims Of ‘Frivolous Activity,’ ‘Threat’

Attorneys for River Park Square are trying to intervene in three lawsuits filed against the city of Spokane.

The lawsuits, filed by attorney Steve Eugster, target the city of Spokane’s involvement in the $100 million downtown project.

River Park Square’s planned redevelopment includes a new Nordstrom store, a 24-screen cinema and 170,000 square feet of additional retail shops and restaurants.

Duane Swinton, attorney for River Park Square, said the developers have asked to intervene because the lawsuits make specific allegations about the project.

“To the extent (the lawsuits) make reference to the developers, it’s important to protect their interests,” Swinton said.

River Park Square is owned by Lincoln Investment Co. and Citizens Realty Co., affiliates of Cowles Publishing Co., owner of The Spokesman-Review.

A hearing date of Feb. 21 has been set in Superior Court on the motion to intervene.

Last month, the City Council decided to pledge city parking meter money to help pay expenses of the development’s parking garage if its parking revenues fall short.

Other council action allows a non-profit corporation formed by River Park Square’s owners to issue revenue bonds for $30 million to buy the development’s parking garage.

Eugster’s lawsuits allege the council’s emergency ordinance is illegal, that the council action violates the city charter and that no public purpose is being served through the city’s actions.

He filed the suits on behalf of three different groups of plaintiffs.

Eugster said the developer is trying to intervene in the lawsuits to frighten the plaintiffs.

“We realize the developers are extremely powerful both financially and politically,” Eugster said. “The developers want to intervene in order to go on a fishing expedition about the plaintiffs and their counsel. That’s a direct threat.”

Eugster is referring to an affidavit filed by Swinton saying the developers could suffer “potential economic damage” from the lawsuits.

Swinton scoffed at the claim that his motion is a threat. “I’m not threatening anybody. I’m responding to a lawsuit that threatens the future of downtown Spokane,” he said.

Still, Swinton said the developers are considering countersuing, claiming frivolous lawsuits. All the issues raised in the lawsuits, Swinton said, already have been decided in a December state Supreme Court case also brought by Eugster.

That case, filed against the state, contested legislative action taken to approve financing for the Seattle Mariners baseball team’s new stadium.

“To bring up issues that have definitely been decided hints of frivolous activity on the part of the plaintiff,” Swinton said. “These questions are answered directly in the other case.”

Eugster disagreed.

“The cases are not the same,” he said, taking offense at the suggestion of frivolous lawsuits. “I’m appalled that somebody in the profession would denigrate the serious and thoughtful issues raised by the plaintiffs with such a claim.”

, DataTimes