PORTLAND-In a reversal of fortune for signature gatherers, the Oregon Supreme changed its mind this week and said shopping malls and stores can ban the freelance workers from their premises.

The court’s decision is related to two local court cases involving Fred Meyer and Lloyd Center Mall. In 1989, a Portland woman sued Fred Meyer after she was arrested for trespassing while signature gathering in front of one of its area stores in 1989. She was eventually awarded $2 million in punitive damages in a decision that was appealed and then upheld two years ago by the state Court of Appeals.

Fred Meyer appealed again, this time to the Supreme Court. The court, in reviewing the case, also decided to review a 1993 decision against Lloyd Center Mall that gave petitioners access to certain common areas of larger shopping centers.

In an opinion for the court, Justice Michael Gillette said nothing in the century-old adopting papers of the voter-approved initiative system shows that voters “intended to require private property owners to permit petitioning activity on their premises.”

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