Cd'A man seeks $25 million in discrimination suit - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cd'A man seeks $25 million in discrimination suit

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho. - A Coeur d'Alene man is suing Kootenai County, a fire district and a property owners association for $25 million after he says he was discriminated against because of his ethnicity and religion.

Haitham Joudeh was attempting to develop a storage depot identified in court documents as 'Storage Depot at Mica Bay." He says that his efforts were  stonewalled by the county and others because of his Islamic faith and Middle Eastern descent.

Joudeh and his company, Jordan International, applied for necessary project  permits and did not encounter any resistance to their project until September  2008 when the Mica-Kidd fire district set forth "unprecedented and arbitrary" requirements that needed to be met, according to court documents.

Days later, the Kootenai County Building and Planning Department recommended the project be approved, subject to some minor conditions which Joudeh agreed  to meet.

On September 16, 2008, the owners association named in the suit, Mica Kidd Island Property Owners Association, held a rally in opposition of Joudeh's project. Court documents state that during the rally multiple references to Joudeh's ethnicity and religion were made. The official complaint also states that Mica Kidd Fire District Chief Robert Crawford announced, with a smirk and sarcasm, recommended project requirements that would make the project cost prohibitive. The announcement was apparently met with laughter and applause.

Joudeh says that after the rally, he began receiving threats of violence and damage to his property if his project was approved.

Just two days later, a public hearing was held before the Kootenai County Examiner, during which Joudeh agreed to adopt the Building and Planning Department's conditions. Racial comments were also made at this hearing, with many more to follow online.

Those comments included such statements as "Mr. Joudeh, your family has money in Jordan - go build your storage facility there..." and "It's bad enough when aliens move in and start erecting industrial-type buildings..."

In January 2009, Joudeh sent Kootenai County officials pictures of other, similar, structures in the area where he wanted to build and told them that many of those operations were operating without the necessary permits.

Later in January, Joudeh submitted another application regarding his project to officials which the County has yet to respond to.

In subsequent meetings regarding the project Joudeh re-alleges comments about his race and religion were made.

Ultimately, on March 26, 2009, the Board made a decision to deny Joudeh the necessary permit for his project saying his structure would not meet the "rural character of the area." Joudeh states that the conclusion was not only unsupported but it totally ignores the existence of the facility used to facilitate the rally opposed to Joudeh's project.

On April 3, 2009, Joudeh filed a Notice of Appeal followed by a tort claim on April 6 giving notice of the suit to Kootenai County.

Commissioner Rick Currie said the claim against the county is bogus, and commissioners consider all projects based on their merits.

*All information and statements in this story originate from Joudeh's complaint filed in court.

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