Amelia Powell (left), who has worked as a bikini barista, and Derek Newman (right), who has been representing the Everett baristas in their federal civil rights lawsuit, seen here in November 2017 in Seattle. Newman in May 2018 sought to leave the case. (Rikki King / The Herald)

Amelia Powell (left), who has worked as a bikini barista, and Derek Newman (right), who has been representing the Everett baristas in their federal civil rights lawsuit, seen here in November 2017 in Seattle. Newman in May 2018 sought to leave the case. (Rikki King / The Herald)

Bikini baristas’ lawyer seeks to bow out of Everett lawsuit

Derek Newman says his clients aren’t listening to him or paying their legal bills.

EVERETT — The Everett bikini baristas face a new challenge in their legal battle: Their lawyer wants out.

Seattle attorney Derek Newman says the baristas aren’t listening to him or paying him as promised, according to paperwork filed May 24. Newman is seeking a judge’s permission to leave the case.

“There has been a substantial breakdown in the attorney-client relationship … ” he wrote. “(They) have declined material advice from counsel. This is their prerogative, but it makes representation difficult.”

The baristas have been fighting with the city of Everett since filing a federal lawsuit in September. That followed the city passing legislation banning their business model. Most of the arguments in court have been focused on how much or how little clothing the employees can wear, and if such rules violate their civil rights.

In December, a U.S. District Court judge approved a temporary ban on Everett enforcing the rules until the lawsuit was resolved. The city then asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the ban, also known as a preliminary injunction.

The dress code requires quick service employees to wear clothing that covers the upper and lower body. (City of Everett)

The dress code requires quick service employees to wear clothing that covers the upper and lower body. (City of Everett)

That step led to the parties meeting to discuss a potential settlement, with a gathering scheduled May 7. The mediation was unsuccessful, the city later told the court.

In his motion to withdraw, Newman said he had warned his clients in person about the unpaid bills and suggested they find another attorney. His firm is out thousands of dollars, he said.

His main concerns are with one of the clients, who has ties to the bikini barista business. That client is not named as a plaintiff, unlike the Hillbilly Hotties owner, Jovanna Edge, and several of her employees.

Newman could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Edge referred questions to a spokesman, Schuyler Lifschultz. He said a new attorney, an appeals specialist from California, should be added to the case in the coming days.

“Not only is this not going away but we’re bringing in the proverbial big guns,” he said.

Newman’s motion said he expects the court to extend the June 25 deadline for the baristas to respond to the city’s appeal.

_________

This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Rikki King can be reached at 425-339-3449 or rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

More in Northwest

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

Courtesy photo
King County Sheriff’s Office has been giving ICE unredacted information

Both the office and jail have supplied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

University of Washington among researchers of climate change’s effects in global temperatures.

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Climbers rescued after days on Rainier

Several rescue attempts went awry, thanks to bad weather and flying conditions.

Rick Steves to give $1 million yearly to stop climate change

“If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment,” he said.

Boeing says decision on new airplane will come this year

With the 737 Max crisis far from over, there was speculation that a 797 decision might be delayed.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

Cherry blossoms bloom in April at the Washington State Capitol. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislature adjourns on time with new budget, more money for education

Total spending is $52.4 billion; includes levy lid lift for school districts and some tax increases.

Gov. Jay Inslee shakes hands with Dinah Griffey after signing Senate Bill 5649 on April 19. The law revises the statute of limitations for sex crimes. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Hits and misses from Legislature’s 2019 session

New laws target vaccines, sex crimes and daylight savings; losers include sex ed and dwarf tossing bills.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to protesting nurses on April 24 at the State Capitol Building in Olympia. Inslee indicated he would sign the bill for meal and rest breaks into law if it passes both chambers. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Lawmakers approve ‘nursing bill’ for mandatory meal and rest breaks

Nurses show up in Olympia to support bill, protest Sen. Walsh’s remarks.

Colton Harris-Moore, known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” as seen on a GoFundMe page where he sought to raise $125,000 for flight training. (GoFundMe)
‘Barefoot Bandit’ asks judge to shorten his supervised release

Colton Harris-Moore says travel restrictions are holding back a lucrative public-speaking career.