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Court Victory in Kentucky; Scenic Has No “Standing”

Date: May 21, 2018

Summary:
A unanimous three-judge appeals court said Scenic Kentucky cannot challenge the state’s regulation of digital billboards and vegetation control because Scenic does not have “standing” in court.

Body:

A unanimous three-judge appeals court said Scenic Kentucky cannot challenge the state’s regulation of digital billboards and vegetation control because Scenic does not have “standing” in court.

Background

In late 2015, the Kentucky Legislature approved bills to regulate digital billboards and allow vegetation control along roadways.

Scenic Kentucky challenged both measures in court, suing the commonwealth and its Transportation Cabinet.  The Outdoor Advertising Association of Kentucky, represented byGuy Taft and Christopher Houston, intervened on the state’s side.

A circuit court ruled that neither Scenic Kentucky or its board member Stephen Porter had standing to pursue the lawsuit.  Scenic Kentucky and Porter appealed (and lost).

How Did Porter Claim Standing?

  • He had driven past digital billboards, which distracted him
  • “He personally enjoys trees” (quoting here from the 9-page opinion of the appeals court)
  • He is a taxpayer

Those factors did not add up to standing to sue the commonwealth, the appeals court affirmed.

What Did the Appeals Court Say?

  • Porter did not allege damages distinct from the general public
  • Porter does not own property affected by the regulations
  • Digital billboards do not prevent his use of roads
  • Just because you pay taxes does not qualify you for standing to sue

In determining that Scenic Kentucky board member Porter lacked standing, the appeals court said Scenic Kentucky could not establish standing as an association.

 

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