DENVER (CBS4) – Attorneys for a Denver woman greased the pan for yet another legal battle against a Lakewood bakery already burned around the edges from a series of heated civil rights fights. Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused in 2012 to bake a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a same-sex couple from Denver, on the basis of his religious beliefs.
That case rose through the court system, culminating in a year ago in a 7-2 decision from the United States Supreme Court partially in favor of Phillips. The justices did not rule on the larger issue of whether businesses can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gays or lesbians, but did decide the bakery owner had been subjected to anti-religious bias by a state civil rights agency.
The latest lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Denver District Court on behalf of Autumn Scardina by attorneys Paula Greisen and John McHugh.
Scardina had filed a previous lawsuit against Phillips following her request for a cake – an order she placed the day of the SCOTUS ruling. Previous reports say Scardina’s order was for a cake celebrating her gender transition.
Thursday, Greisen called it an order for a birthday cake.
Regardless, Scardina’s initial lawsuit was not successful.
“The second round was dismissed, frankly, without our input,” Greisen told CBS4. “They disregarded Ms. Scardina and the merits of her claim.”
The newest lawsuit claims Phillips discriminated against Scardina and used deceptive and unfair trade practices.
“The dignity of all citizens in our state needs to be honored. Masterpiece Cakeshop said before the Supreme Court they would serve any baked good to members of the LGBTQ community. It was just the religious significance of it being a wedding cake,” Griesen said. “We don’t believe they’ve been honest with the public.”
In the complaint’s text, Scardina’s attorneys cite testimony in previous court proceedings: “Mr. Phillips, for himself and on behalf of Masterpiece Cakeshop, confirmed that they would happily make the exact same cake requested by Ms. Scardina for other customers.”
Phillips, contacted at the bakery Thursday, said he suspected further legal activity was cooking.
A formal statement was later distributed on his behalf by Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Jim Campbell, whose firm represented Phillips in the Supreme Court case:
“A new lawsuit has been filed against Masterpiece Cakeshop that appears to largely rehash old claims. The State of Colorado abandoned similar ones just a few months ago. So this latest attack by Scardina looks like yet another desperate attempt to harass cake artist Jack Phillips. And it stumbles over the one detail that matters most: Jack serves everyone; he just cannot express all messages through his custom cakes.”
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed anti-religious bias when it sanctioned Phillips, Phillips filed a federal lawsuit against the state and its Commission.
Subsequently, both sides agreed to drop all litigation and pay their own attorney fees.
This latest lawsuit demands payment of unspecified damages through a jury trial.