SAN DIEGO – Superior Court Judge Jeffrey B. Barton grilled attorneys for Target Corp. today regarding their lawsuit to stop local grass-roots activist group Canvass For A Cause (CFAC) from talking to customers outside their store.
Barton listened to arguments from both sides and said he would issue a ruling in two weeks. He did not specify a date.
CFAC contends that its right to free speech is being challenged by this lawsuit, while Target claims the grass-roots group’s tactics are harming its business.
Tres Watson, executive director of CFAC, said the judge asked Target’s attorneys to answers questions that his group would like answered, such as why Target’s court documents do not offer concrete evidence to back their allegations that CFAC volunteers were harassing customers and driving away business. Watson said all his volunteers are trained on how to properly speak with customers outside stores such as Target, Ralphs and Vons.
Watson said various court documents filed by Target’s attorneys deal in hearsay and even triple hearsay without a single incident proving that a CFAC volunteer has broken any rules or violated any laws.
Target’s high-powered attorneys from the global law firm of Morrison & Foerster tried to persuade the judge to rule on their behalf because they had won 121 cases in Superior Court to stop groups from talking to customers outside their stores in California. The judge seemed unimpressed, Watson said.
“It’s hard to read the tea leaves,” Watson said, but noted that Target won those 121 cases because nobody defended their cases. “They bring out their million-dollar lawyers and go after grass-root groups that don’t have a lot of money. It’s always a David vs. Goliath situation.”
Watson says the lawsuit is another black eye for Target with the LGBT community. CFAC supports gay marriage, among other issues, and one of Target’s court documents complains that the corporation fears its customers will think Target supports same-sex marriage as a result.
Earlier this month, Lady Gaga abruptly ended a deal with Target over its lack of support for gay rights and issues. And Target got into hot water with the LGBT community and its allies after learning that the corporation had been making sizable political donations to anti-gay candidates and conservative organizations that don’t support LGBT equality.