Ukiah resident Terri Stout has concerns about a proposed Costco store's impact on her job at the local Lucky supermarket. But she never once considered suing to halt the project and said she was stunned to learn she is named as one of four plaintiffs in two such lawsuits filed by Davis attorney William Kopper.
"I'm mystified," she said. "It really is very strange and I don't know what to do."
A co-worker of Stout's, Sandy McKee, also has said she was named as a plaintiff in the lawsuits without her permission.
Stout said she suspects a man who visited Lucky and asked her how she felt about Costco is to blame for the problem.
"I said I was concerned about my job," she said. "He never said we were going to have a lawsuit."
Stout didn't recall his name, but said he, like Kopper, was from Davis.
She said she doesn't think the man was associated either with her employer or her union, United Commercial and Food Workers Union.
Reached Thursday, Kopper declined to explain how the woman came to be listed as plaintiffs in the "Ukiah Citizens for Safety First" lawsuit. He said he could not comment on the lawsuit's plaintiffs, nor on who hired him to file the lawsuits, citing attorney-client privilege.
Alicia Rockwell, director of public affairs for Save Mart Supermarkets, which operates Lucky supermarkets, said only that questions about the lawsuit should be directed to Kopper. Save Mart also owns FoodMaxx, where two other listed plaintiffs work.
One of the two FoodMaxx employees, Rachel Land, told the Ukiah Daily Journal that she and co-worker Patty Hernandez knew they were named as plaintiffs in the suits.
United Commercial and Food Workers Union representatives did not respond to inquiries Wednesday or Thursday.
Kopper has filed a number of similar lawsuits against development projects throughout the state.
One of the Ukiah Costco lawsuits he filed challenges the environmental impact report on the project. The other challenges the sale of the property.
Stout, whose name is misspelled in the lawsuits, said Wednesday she hadn't spoken to Kopper, but he left a message on her phone saying he was preparing a court motion to take her name off the complaints.
Stout said the mistake has led to uncomfortable interactions with customers at work. She said several people have demanded to know why she opposed Costco.
"I said I'm not against it either, I'm just worried," she said.
Stout also is worried she could be liable for court costs stemming from the lawsuits.
Ukiah City Attorney Dave Rapport said this may be a first for him. He said he can't recall previously being involved in a lawsuit in which some of the plaintiffs were listed without their consent.
In addition to Kopper's lawsuits, the Costco project has been criticized by a group of local residents who sought changes to the project through the city's appeal process rather than lawsuits.
But overall, Ukiah-area residents seem to welcome the store.
City officials also want Costco, which is expected to generate $500,000 in tax revenue annually for the city.
Costco officials hope to open the store in 2015.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.