Lawsuit includes allegations of serious errors and misconduct by City officials
Published : Tuesday, September 3, 2019 | 4:21 PM
Tuesday, a finalist who won a coveted commercial cannabis permit to operate in the City of Pasadena filed a federal lawsuit against the City, alleging Pasadena officials had botched the process, violated their own regulations and harmed the appellant, The Atrium Group LLC.
Atrium Group lawyers filed the lawsuit in federal District Court. It names the City of Pasadena, City Manager Steven Mermell, Planning Director David Reyes, and other parties as defendants and alleges that serious errors and official misconduct took place during the recent ranking of 122 screening applications that were received by the City, which resulted in Harvest of Pasadena, LLC being wrongfully named as one of only six companies entitled to apply for a cannabis retail permit.
Atrium said in the suit it has been left with no recourse other than to seek a remedy in a court of law. In addition to an award of monetary damages, Atrium is also asking the court to order the City of Pasadena to stop processing Harvest’s permit application and to disqualify the company from further consideration.
See a copy of the lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court against the City of Pasadena by marijuana retailer The Atrium Group, LLC
Atrium alleges that Pasadena’s City Manager and Planning Director failed to disqualify Harvest even after they knew its application was replete with material omissions and false information.
Although Atrium was ultimately selected as one of the top six applicants, its ability to open a cannabis store in Pasadena has been effectively blocked due to the illegitimate participation of Harvest in the permitting process, according to the suit.
A Pasadena spokesperson acknowledged the lawsuit.
“We can confirm that late this afternoon we were served with a lawsuit filed by The Atrium Group,” said City Press Information Officer Lisa Derderian. “We have no comment on the lawsuit at this time.”
Chris Berman, Chief Operating Officer of Atrium Group, however, did comment on his company’s position towards City officials in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
“By allowing this one company to evade the rules, the City failed to protect the integrity of a process that Pasadena voters intended to be both competitive and fair— where the rules promised there would be no favorites and where every applicant was to be held accountable to the rules established by the City.”
Berman went on to add: “Unfortunately, as a result of the clear bias that the City Manager and Planning Director have shown towards Harvest, Pasadena’s very first cannabis permitting program has been corrupted and cannot be saved until Harvest is judged by the very same rules that the City demanded 121 other applicants to meet.”