In a December 27, 2013 ruling, Judge Milton Shadur of the United State District Court for the Northern District of Illinois found that Clear Channel Outdoor was trespassing on the property of Gair Law Group’s client by failing to remove its billboard after its lease expired.
The landowner demanded that Clear Channel remove the entire billboard structure (including 30 feet of concrete and steel underground) after its billboard lease expired in December 2012. Clear Channel refused to remove the underground structure, sticking the landowner with the considerable cost of removing Clear Channel’s useless supporting structure. Clear Channel claimed that it had no obligation to remove its structure under the lease terms, even though it retained ownership of the structure.
Judge Shadur found that Clear Channel’s argument leaves it “hoist by its own petard.” Because Clear Channel owns the billboard structure, and has no permission to leave it on the landowner’s property, “Clear Channel [is] a trespasser under the law.” The court also accepted GLG’s argument that the lease was an adhesion contract.