City sued over big signs

By Lizzy Fitzsousa | Mar 19, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans landlord is suing its tenant and the city after they allegedly lost their grandfathered status due to a signage replacement.

NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans landlord is suing its tenant and the city after they allegedly lost their grandfathered status due to a signage replacement.

Pig Feet LLC filed suit against Silwady’s Group LLC, America’s Best Signs LLC and the City of New Orleans in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Dec. 11, 2012.

Pig Feet claims it owns property at 2013 S. Claiborne Ave. in New Orleans where Silwady’s leases a gas station and convenience store. Pig Feet alleges that there were signs on the property that were larger than city ordinances but were grandfathered in and allowed to remain. In late 2012, Pig Feet learned of a plan of Silwady’s to install new signs on the property.

Scott G. Wolfe Sr., Pig Feet’s manager, asserts he communicated with ABS and Silwady’s and informed them that Pig Feet was the owner of the permanent signs and they would not authorize the removal of the signs. If new signs were to be installed, they would have to be the same size as the existing signs and installed within the existing structure so as to maintain Pig Feet’s grandfathered status.

The plaintiff claims ABS submitted a proposal to the City of New Orleans for new signs without authorization from Pig Feet and that the proposal misrepresented the owner of the property as Rami, a Silwady’s member and not Pig Feet, and requested a permit for installation of signs smaller than the existing signs. The City Planning Commission approved the sign permit application and the signs were removed and new, smaller signs were put up and the older, larger signs were destroyed or disposed of without notice. The suit claims the City failed to do due diligence. Because of the replacement of the old signs, Pig Feet lost grandfathered status and lost the value of old signs. They claim Silwady’s actions constitute a breach of contract.

Plaintiff is represented by Scott G. Wolfe, Jr., Seth J. Smiley, and Bradley Aldrich of Wolfe Law Group of New Orleans.

America’s Best Signs answered the complaint on Feb. 7, denying wrongdoing and alleging that Pig Feet acted with negligence and liability.

ABS is represented by Daniel M. Redmann and Christian B. Bogart of Duplass, Zwain, Bourgeois, Pfister & Weinstock.

The City of New Orleans responded by saying the plaintiff has no right to challenge its actions through court without exhausting administrative remedies. It claims it is beyond their duty to determine the ownership of property and signs, and there was ample time during the permitting process for the plaintiff to object to the changes and contest the replacement of the signs. The City further argues that Pig Feet is suggesting that it act as referee between landlords and tenants, which is beyond their purview.

The City is represented by Adam J. Swensek, the assistant city attorney, E. Patrick Eagan, assistant city attorney, Cherrrell R. Simms, Senior Deputy Chief City attorney, and Sharonda R. Williams, City attorney.

The case has been assigned to Division H Judge Val Patrick Exnicios.

Case no. 2013-11751.

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