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Waremart v. Discovery Petition Management

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Waremart v. Discovery Petition Management is a 2000 decision of a California appeals court about petitioner access rights. The case was filed in California by Waremart against Progressive Campaigns, Inc. at about the same time that the shopping chain filed a nearly identical case, Waremart v. Progressive Campaigns, Inc. in Washington. Both state court systems reached similar conclusions--in both cases, upholding the private property rights of Waremart over the petitioner access rights of petition circulators.

Discovery Petition Management entered the California case as a co-plaintiff. As a result, the California case is sometimes referred to as "Waremart v. Discovery Petition Management" even though the primary plaintiff was Progressive Campaigns.

Waremart was founded in 1967 in Boise, Idaho. The company is now known as "WinCo Foods."[1] All five of the states that Waremart/Winco owns stores in are I&R states--Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Nevada.

With the 1979 decision, Robins v. Pruneyard, in the background, what the court had to do in the present case was distinguish between shopping centers that appropriately can be described as serving as the modern-day equivalent of the public forum--where circulators should constitutionally be allowed to solicit signatures--and stores that are just stores.

Just like a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, a store is sometimes just a store, reasoned the court in this case, writing that "Progressive's interpretation of Pruneyard is too expansive."

Facts that the court took into consideration in ruling as it did include:

  • Waremart does not provide amenities to the public, such as places to congregate, recreational activities or a cinema;
  • Waremart has no meeting rooms, murals, artwork, information booths, or bulletin boards;
  • Waremart has no patios, plazas, picnic areas, parks or gardens where people can socialize;
  • Waremart does not sponsor community events such as carnivals, flower and garden shows, or any other entertainment of any kind.

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