City Council accepts pro bono defense offer for Edmonds gun storage lawsuit

City Council accepts pro bono defense offer for Edmonds gun storage lawsuit

In other council business Tuesday night, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, right, proclaimed September as National Senior Center Month. Receiving the proclamation was Edmonds Senior Center Executive Director Farrell Fleming, left.

The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved an offer by two law firms to provide pro bono defense of the city’s recently passed gun storage ordinance.

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The firms involved are the litigation team for Everytown for Gun Safety and Summit Law Group of Seattle.

Under the City of Edmonds ordinance approved July 24, those failing to secure their firearms could face a civil infraction of up to $500. If a child or other prohibited person gains access to a firearm that should have been secured, the violator can be fined up to $1,000. If someone is hurt as a result of that person gaining access, the fine increases to up to $10,000.

The City of Edmonds was served with a complaint Aug. 13 alleging that the ordinance violates the state’s 35-year-old preemption statute. A similar lawsuit was filed earlier this summer against the City of Seattle, which also passed a measure requiring safe gun storage.

Everytown for Gun Safety announced in July that it would provide pro bono legal defense services for the City of Seattle.

Approval of the pro bono work for the City of Edmonds originally showed up on the council’s consent agenda, but Councilmember Neil Tibbott pulled the matter for discussion so he could ask City Attorney Jeff Taraday for additional details.

“These two law firms have agreed to collectively represent the city on a pro bono basis,” Taraday replied. While Taraday said he will be working in conjunction with them, he expects the two firms to “probably take the laboring oars with respect to the litigation.”

Neither organization will charge the city for its attorney fees, but will charge for expenses and other costs. “Litigation comes with all sorts of costs that one would incur in any case,”Taraday said. “The city has been sued. Some defense will be necessary.”

The city would be “on the hook” for those costs regardless of which firm did the work related to the lawsuit, he said.

Council President Mike Nelson, who sponsored the safe gun storage ordinance, said following the meeting “there will hopefully be more details released soon.”

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Sep 14, 2018 - -

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