September 19th, 2011

Ad firm behind 'supergraphics' sued by city of Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times

The city of Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit demanding millions of dollars from a Beverly Hills-based outdoor advertising company, saying it illegally wrapped 17 buildings with towering “supergraphic” advertisements.

In court documents filed Friday, City Atty. Carmen Trutanich said SkyTag and its president, Michael McNeilly, deprived the city of permitting fees, created traffic hazards and endangered the lives of people who were inside buildings whose windows were covered by the multistory vinyl ads.

Trutanich said he wants $2,500 for each day that a violation was committed by SkyTag, which has been at odds with the city for roughly a decade. Given the number of signs that are at issue, potential penalties in the case are “in the tens of millions of dollars,” said William Carter, Trutanich’s chief deputy.

The lawsuit drew praise from one anti-billboard activist, who described SkyTag as “the worst” of the companies that have attempted to overturn the city’s outdoor advertising laws. SkyTag “deliberately flouted the law for a profit—a lot of profit,” said Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight. He argued that SkyTag faced minimal fines while reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad revenue each month.

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