Baseball's spring training opens next week, but Seattle ticket scalper and photographer William Anderson has already been hit by a hardball. He just lost his 16-month legal battle with the city and Seattle Mariners, claiming he was unconstitutionally searched and his tickets seized. He also claimed police used selective enforcement against scalpers "to reduce or eliminate ticket sales competition with the Mariners." Most of his case was thrown out along the way and a jury ruled against him on a final issue last month, effectively saying he wasn't telling the truth. The city is now asking (pdf) the federal court to award it more than $27,000 in legal costs, arguing Anderson's claim was made up.
His case originally included repeated incidents of police run-ins, but a federal judge tossed most of them in December, leaving just an August 17, 2007 event when, Anderson said, Seattle Police Detective Larry Meyer searched him for tickets, violating his rights. Anderson originally said the event happened on another day, but changed it after the city revealed Meyer didn't work that day. Said the court:
Though Mr. Anderson has presented only the very thinnest of evidence to suggest that these incidents occurred at all, Mr. Anderson's deposition testimony and declaration state facts upon which a reasonable jury could rely to find that [Detective Meyer] searched and/or seized Mr. Anderson without probable cause.
Anderson said the incident caused him "emotional stress, humiliation" and the "ability to enjoy life," but a jury didn't buy his story. Last week, the city's hired attorney, Ted Buck, turned that into a payback opportunity, arguing in a new brief that taxpayers were harmed by Anderson's lawsuit, and that he should pay them $22,100 in attorney fees and $5,250 (pdf) in legal fees.
"This request for fees is not raised lightly," said Buck. But "This case is different - here the defendants asserted from the beginning of the case that this claim was a complete fabrication...This is precisely the sort of case that calls out for an award of fees against a party who has abused judicial process by pursuing a frivolous claim."
A hearing on the fees is set for Feb. 18.