Cocina Cultura Owner Maria Garcia

Oregon Cares Challenge Moves Forward

Our case on behalf of Maria Garcia — owner of a Mexican specialty coffee shop in downtown Portland — is moving forward again.

The facts are not in dispute — Oregon proudly admits it limited benefits solely on the basis of race.  The state has made broad claims about the difficulties faced by black individuals and businesses as a result of the COVID virus, but hasn’t offered any reason to think individuals from other racial groups didn’t suffer the same difficulties.

The court denied CIR’s motion for a preliminary injunction late in 2020 on the grounds that Ms. Garcia did not suffer an irreparable harm when she was denied a grant.  In a related case challenging the same fund, two corporate plaintiffs and an individual moved to certify a class action.  The state promptly offered to settle with all concerned.  In fact, as part of that settlement, the state was forced to pay an additional $3.5 million to provide grants to non-black individuals who had applied for grants (though not to non-black individuals who had refrained from applying because of the illegal racial restriction).

Ms. Garica declined that settlement.  Oregon’s governor had already released a statement promising to fund new race-exclusive programs, making clear the need for a definitive legal ruling.  She remains determined to see her case through to a successful ruling on the merits.  And we are just as determined to achieve that ruling.

We expect to begin discovery shortly.  In the meantime, Ms. Garcia is moving forward with plans to restart her business.