Suburban food-cart pod Happy Valley Station, on Southeast Sunnyside Road., is getting sued for almost $100,000 after a cart owner claimed pod owner Valerie Hunter was abusive, libeled her to other cart owners, charged her noncontractual fees when she didn't open and held her cart hostage when she tried to leave the pod.
The lawsuit by Shanna Irvin and Melody Lydy of Rose City Waffles—now at Southeast Foster Road pod Carts on Foster—was filed in Clackamas County last week.
The suit alleges that after Lydy's lease expired on December 31, 2016, Lydy attempted to remove her then-two food carts—Rose City Waffles and Frankly Delicious—but that Hunter prevented her from removing her property. According to the suit, Hunter told her, "I will let you know what your move out is." The suit also alleges that Hunter contacted Lydy's movers directly, telling them they would be "removed from the station by police" if they attempted to move Lydy's carts.
According to the lawsuit, this delay caused postponements to inspections and additional costs that caused Lydy to lose ownership of one of the two carts, Frankly Delicious.
The suit also claims damages for emotional distress and alleges a broad pattern of abusive behavior by Hunter, including libel. On January 9, 2017, the suit alleges, Hunter sent an e-mail to all cart owners at Happy Valley Station, sating in boldface that "I have been contacted by People who have stalking orders on Melody, court cases and other items… it appears there are even larger issues here then what I am dealing with [all sic]."
The suit and Lydy's lawyers deny this claim, and WW was unable to corroborate it, aside from a harassment charge in 2013 that was dismissed without complaint on the same day it was filed.
These claims are also detailed in a Gofundme page from earlier this year, put up by Shanna Irvin, which fell well short of its $10,000 goal.
"We are countersuing her, and all of her items are false," Hunter told WW when contacted about the lawsuit. "When we send the countersuit, all will be dropped." Without offering specifics, Hunter then asked WW to look into Lydy's personal history.
Hunter's Happy Valley Station was previously in the news in early 2016, after multiple food cart owners complained to local news stations after Hunter raised their rent 150 percent to $2,500 a month, a few weeks after cart owners moved in. (By comparison, rent at the next nearest cart pod, Cartlandia on 82nd Avenue, is $595 a month.)
Hunter was again in the news in spring 2016, after announcing plans to demolish the 127-year-old Belmont Records building, prompting thousands of letters in protest and a Facebook page devoted to Hunter.
The total amount of Lydy's lawsuit—including $25,000 for mental and emotional suffering and $35,000 for libel—is $96,586.20. No court date has yet been set.