By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
A Vietnamese woman and her husband have resolved their civil lawsuit with a white neighbor who spewed racial slurs and threatened her. Under the terms of an agreement announced on April 11, 72-year-old Janet Myers agreed to sell her home and pay Thi Pham $45,000 from a portion of the proceeds.
Pham and her husband, who is white, and their young son, moved to the Shoreline neighborhood four years ago. Myers lived next door. According to Pham, the incidents of hate from Myers have been going on for years.
The civil lawsuit stems from multiple incidents in which Myers, Pham’s next-door neighbor, harassed and threatened Pham. Myers was charged by King County prosecutors for a felony hate crime against Pham. In one incident, Pham was working in her garden planting flowers last year when Myers was spotted staring at her from a car.
Myers yelled out, “Come on out, you slant eye” and “Hey, Miss Vietnam, hey!” as Pham recorded the disturbing incident on her cell phone.
Myers could also be heard saying, “You’re not going to live very long.” Pham believed this to be a threat and called the police. “I was scared, and shaked and cried,” Pham said of the incident. Her husband described the incident as “devastating.”
“My wife is scared to go outside,” said Pham’s husband at the news conference last August announcing the lawsuit. “She’s scared to take our son in the backyard because she’s afraid that she will be assaulted.”
Pham used her cell phone to record the incidents by Myers to document the nature of abuse she was experiencing.
Police arrested Myers on April 5, 2021 and she was charged with a hate crime. She was released without bail on her personal recognizance with an order that she should not contact Pham. Myers pleaded not guilty to the hate crime. However, the family believed that she was violating the no-contact order.
Two weeks prior to the arrest, Pham recorded Myers raising her middle finger to Pham and her 2-year-old son. At the time, Myers was naked below the waist.
The civil lawsuit was filed this past summer. Typically a civil lawsuit is not heard in court before a criminal trial takes place. A civil trial has a lower threshold to prove a claim.
The criminal trial is scheduled for June.
In the lawsuit, Pham sought $100,000 for emotional damages. Her family wanted a permanent protective order against Myers and for Myers to stay 300 feet away from the family. However, their homes are 60 feet away from one another.
At a press conference last summer announcing the civil lawsuit, Pham fought through tears stating, “My life is not safe every single day. I hope what happened to me does not happen to other people. I hope it stops. That’s what I want.”
According to the terms of the resolution, Myers agreed to sell her home and move within six months and pay Pham $45,000. If Myers cannot sell her home and move, the lawsuit will proceed and potentially be decided by a jury.
“We need to make the people who are harassing people because of their race pay and make them pay the victim,” said attorney Jeffery Campiche during the announcement of the tentative resolution of the lawsuit. He called the civil settlement a victory for victims of racial harassment.
“We hope Jan Myers follow [sic] through the agreement and move quickly,” Pham said of the news of the resolution knowing that the harassment and threats should soon cease.
Although this incident has resolved a lawsuit filed by the victim, the criminal case reflects the steady rise of hate crimes being reported by the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.