LOS ANGELES A judge Wednesday granted Costco’s request for a preliminary injunction against specific signature gathering groups whose members have allegedly sent unauthorized people to solicit signatures from customers on various issues at four San Fernando Valley warehouses.
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Virginia Keeny issued the order against “Chris Anderson and their agents, independent contractors, servants, assigns, and persons acting on their behalf or in concert with them.”
The other groups affected by the order are referred to as “Doe” associations 1-4. Their members have refused to identify their affiliation when asked to do so by Costco employees, according to the complaint brought Aug. 3.
The order applies to Costco stores statewide, including the four at issue in the lawsuit: Pacoima, Woodland Hills, Van Nuys and Northridge.
The groups targeted by the judge’s injunction are prohibited from engaging in “expressive activity, including without limitation, soliciting signatures, donations, or sales, or collecting petition signatures” pending further order of the court.
The judge had previously ruled there was no urgency justifying the issuing of a temporary restraining order against the unnamed defendants and she instead scheduled Wednesday’s hearing on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued.
The solicitors started arriving at the warehouses in July, the suit states.
“Beginning in July, the solicitors arrived at the Costco warehouses to solicit signatures for petitions, such as `no’ to the Los Angeles Unequal Pay Measure for health care workers, and have continued to do so on a routine, near-daily basis,” the suit states.
In its suit, Costco maintains its primary purpose is to sell its products to members at its warehouses and that it does not invite people to do such things as congregate at the warehouses. Still, various individuals and groups have sought to use the area in front of Costco’s stores to speak on a variety of issues, including to solicit signatures for petitions, the suit states.
Josh Trainor, who has worked for Costco for nearly 30 years and is the assistant general manager of the Pacoima store, said solicitors at his warehouse have attracted counter-petitioners and protesters, resulting in disruptive shouting matches and concerning confrontations.
Several female members entering and leaving the Woodland Hills warehouse have said they felt unsafe because of how close male solicitors approach them, according to a sworn declaration submitted by the location’s assistant manager Dave Olson, a Costco veteran employee of more than 25 years.