National/World

Oregon man sues Kroger for refusing to sell ammo

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) - Less than a week after a 20-year-old from Southern Oregon sued Dick's and Walmart for not selling him a rifle, a 20-year-old in Washington County has filed age discrimination lawsuits against Kroger, the company that owns Fred Meyer, and Bi-Mart for not selling him shotgun ammunition. 

Airion Grace is listed as the plaintiff in both lawsuits, which were each filed in Washington County Circuit Court on March 9. 

Both stores, which sell firearms and ammunition, changed their policies last week, saying they wouldn't sell to anyone younger than 21. Grace's lawsuits say both companies violated 2 state laws in regard to age discrimination. 

This lawsuit comes less than a week after Tyler Watson filed a lawsuit against Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart after he attempted to buy a rifle from their stores located in Medford and Grants Pass, respectively. 

"You are not allowed as a retailer, you are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of age," said Lake Oswego attorney Kristian Roggendorf, who's representing Grace. "Much like you are not able to discriminate on the basis of sex, race or sexual orientation. It's the same law, and this is just an extension of that. This is part of that law."

The lead council on all 4 cases is Max Whittington of Grants Pass. Whittington acknowledged he's personally a gun-rights proponent, which is one of the reasons he took the cases. 

In Grace's case, Whittington said the 20 year old had bought ammunition from both the stores that denied his request on Tuesday. Grace, according to Whittington, had bout the shotgun -- the one he was trying to get ammunition for -- from that Bi-Mart, as well. 

Roggendorf compared these cases to another case in Oregon. Owners of the cake show "Sweet Cakes by Melissa" were forced to pay a $135,000 fine after they refused to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage in 2013. That decision was upheld in December, and now they're appealing to the state supreme court. 

"Just like in the bakery case you saw you couldn't do that for a cake, you can't do that with ammunition," Roggendorf said. 

Both Grace's lawsuits are seeking "injunctive relief," meaning they want the court to order the companies to go by Oregon law, not their own policies, and to "stop unlawfully discriminating against 18,19, and 20-year-old customers at Oregon locations." Grace's lawsuit also wants the 2 companies to cover court and attorney fees, as well as any other punitive damages. 

According to court documents, Grace entered the Bi-Mart on Southeast Tualatin Valley Hwy in Hillsboro on March 6 and headed toward the store's firearms section. Grace told an employee there that he wanted to by shotgun ammunition, prompting the employee to ask Grace's age. Grace said he was 20 years old. The employee, citing the company's new policy, said they couldn't sell rifles or ammunition to anyone under 21.

Grace, according to court documents, had the same exact interaction with an employee at the Fred Meyer located on the same street. 

In both cases, Grace left the store without buying ammunition, the documents stated. 

All 4 of the defending stores changed their policies in regard to the selling of firearms and ammunition in the wake of the Feb. 14 high school shooting that killed 17 people. 


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