City of New Orleans v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., No. 11-30607 (5th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The City of New Orleans filed suit against BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC, claiming that the company owed it additional compensation for the use of its public rights-of-way. The district court rejected the City's claims for additional compensation pursuant to the various contracts between the parties. The court, however, awarded the City $1.5 million in unjust enrichment damages to compensate the City for benefits the company had received from its use of the City's rights-of-way. Both parties appealed. The City then enacted an ordinance to force BellSouth to continue compensating the City in future years for the unjust enrichment identified by the district court. BellSouth moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the City from enforcing the ordinance, which the district court denied. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (1) affirmed the district court's findings of fact and conclusions of law, in part, to the extent the court rejected the City's claims for damages; and (2) reversed and vacated the district court's judgment awarding unjust enrichment damages to the City, holding that BellSouth had justification in contract for any enrichment it was enjoying from its use of the City's rights-of-way. Remanded with instructions to permanently enjoin enforcement of the City's ordinance.