In the latest chapter of a long-running lawsuit in federal court, Regency Outdoor Advertising has filed a demand for a jury trial to determine if the city owes the company at least $10 million in profits lost because the company was denied permits to put up new billboards more than 10 years ago.
A U.S. District Court judge ruled three years ago that the West Hollywood billboard company could not pursue the claim for lost profits, but that ruling was overturned earlier this year by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A settlement conference on the issue of damages was held last week in district court with attorneys for the city and Regency, but no agreement was reached.
The company, best known for its jumbo billboards on the Sunset Strip, applied for permits to put up new billboards in two city redevelopment zones, but the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) rejected those applications on the grounds that new billboards were incompatible with development plans for those areas in Hollywood and Exposition Park.
In its lawsuit filed in 1999, Regency argued that the CRA’s regulations violated the First Amendment by unlawfully restricting commercial speech. The district court judge ruled in the case of two billboards that CRA officials had too much discretion to approve or disapprove permits, but he stopped short of ordering the issuance of those permits, instead directing the city to pay $14,000 to defray the company’s costs in applying for the permits.