Neighbors claim defamation after others raise money in support of Rocket Market

Neighbors claim defamation after others raise money in support of Rocket Market

SPOKANE, Wash. --- The Rocket Market summer concerts have become quite the debate in Spokane’s Comstock neighborhood.

Four households are suing the local event venue and store near the corner of Hatch Road and High Drive because of the noise and the alleged rowdiness of the people who attend the concerts.

Another neighbor, Kate Pogue Rau started a Go FundMe account to rally support and money for Rocket Market after hearing news of the suit.

Thursday, lawyer for the neighbors behind the lawsuit sent Pogue Rau a letter claiming she defamed them in the text of her GoFundMe page.

In a letter, the lawyer Jed Barden cites the following paragraph from the GoFundMe page as defamatory:

“The plaintiffs are a very small number of neighbors (three households) who are demanding that they stop their live music series. These events take place twice a week, in the summer months only… The plaintiffs complain that the music is so loud that they cannot hear their televisions, and are asking not only that the music series stop…”

Barden said it was not his clients’ intent to stop the concerts, and that was what was defamatory about Pogue Rau’s GoFundMe account.

“My clients have been painted as these uptight music-hating people,” Barden said. “That’s just not the case.”

Barden said if the Rocket Market stopped amplifying the music that would be a “reasonable offer.”

Pogue Rau, who also lives in the area, said she had not been served with the documents as of Friday afternoon.

“The fact that Barden has shared this letter/lawsuit with the media before serving me is a blatant attempt to intimate me and it will not be tolerated, by me or by my attorney. Now *I* have been slandered by their insinuation that I have mislead/duped Go Fund Me Donors,” she said in a statement. “Furthermore, the paragraph from the Go Fund Me page that they take umbrage at and call ‘defamation’ is from their own (public) law suit. I have never once identified the plaintiffs in any way; I have taken the high road and will continue to do so.”

Pogue Rau said she planned to keep up her GoFundMe page up, and that her attorney told her she could post their lawsuit but chose not to in an effort to protect the other neighbors’ privacy.

As of Friday, the Rocket Market GoFundMe had raised more than $7,415.

Barden also argued that Rocket Market should not need money from the community because the company insurance should cover any legal expenses.

“We’re not talking about a park, this is a private business making a lot of money [off of the concerts],” he said. “The community should be supporting the victims here, not the perpetrators.”

“What’s going on here is this corporation is profiting at the expense of the health and well-being of my clients,” Barden said.

One of the Rocket Market owners, Alan Shepherd, said they are just one local business, though Rocket Bakery in Spokane does have interest in the market.

“It’s a free concert, a beer costs like $1.25. I’m trying to figure out where this corporate greed thing comes in,” he said.  “This was a community event that we thought hopefully the community would like and shop with us in the future.”

Shepherd said the market has a lawyer now they are working with while they wait for insurance to assign one. Then, their lawyer will work in conjunction with the insurance assigned representation.

“If our insurance company pays for everything, fantastic,” Shepherd said. “Then will give all of it, every penny to Som’s kids and they go to college. We won’t take a penny of this.”

Any unused proceeds from the GoFundMe fundraiser will go to the college fund for Isamu 'Som' Jordan's children. He was a local musician and writer, who died in 2013.

Before filing the lawsuit this past summer, one of the neighbors told KREM 2 he believed the only way to make things right would be to stop the concerts all together, so Thursday’s filing indicates a shift.

Shepherd said he believed they have until May to respond to the latest development.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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