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Lamar v. City of Rapid City Proceeds to Trial in Federal Court

Legal arguments will continue Monday between the City of Rapid City and plaintiff Lamar Advertising Company (NASDAQ:LAMR) concerning a dispute over a 2011 citizen-enacted billboard control initiative.

On February 21, 2014, United States District Court Judge Jeffrey Viken issued an order, narrowing the scope of the litigation to issues concerning the spacing requirements and their reasonableness under South Dakota Codified Law.

These issues will take center stage at trial in United States District Court before Judge Viken this Monday. The City, represented by the trial lawyers of Goodsell Quinn, will continue their defense of the 2011 citizen-initiated ordinance.

"I'm pleased with the Court's February Order but there is still work to be done," says G. Verne Goodsell, Sr. Partner of Goodsell Quinn and Attorney representing the citizens of Rapid City. "We successfully defended on all of the constitutional complaints against the citizens of Rapid City. The Court's February ruling recognizes the community's ability to restrict and control new construction of vinyl and electronic billboards. It will be a highly focused trial, one where Lamar is clearly unrelenting in their efforts to overturn the citizens' majority vote."

Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker said, "We are looking forward to our day in court and that the community and citizens' rights on this issue will be preserved."

In 2011, a group of citizens known as Scenic Rapid City proposed two citizen-initiated ordinances, The Citizens' Billboard Control Initiative and The Citizens' Reform Initiative for Billboard Sign Credits. The design of the citizen led initiatives was to control new construction of electronic or digital illuminated signs in Rapid City. On June 7, 2011 a City election was held and the Citizen Initiatives were placed on the ballot. Approximately 65 percent of the electorate favored the Citizen Initiatives, representing a substantial majority.

On August 26, 2011, the plaintiffs commenced action against the City, asserting that the Citizen Initiatives directly contradict South Dakota Codified Law and the United States and South Dakota Constitutions. The City retained the law firm of Goodsell Quinn to defend the interests of the City and protect the electorate.

"In our view, the electorate has cast its vote in overwhelming favor of reasonable regulation," Goodsell said. "It is our responsibility to continue to defend the citizen's choice by defending the City's authority to regulate digital and vinyl signs. Lamar continues to fail to recognize the desire of the electorate.

"At this juncture we are prepared for trial, have successfully defended on a number of claims by the plaintiffs, and reduced the City's exposure from 11 million dollars to essentially $600,000. From my perspective, that's a win unto itself," comments Goodsell.

For more information
  • Darrell Shoemaker, Communications Coordinator, City of Rapid City, 721-6686/939-8551 (cell)
  • Christopher Donahue, Spokesman, Goodsell Quinn law firm, 605-410-2110