Judge Dismisses Small Cell Suit Against State Players

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In 2019, the Florida League of Cities and three communities — Fort Walton Beach, Naples, and Port Orange, FL — filed a lawsuit challenging a state law expected to help telecoms install small cells on city-owned utility poles in public rights-of-way. The Pensacola News Journal reported that a judge recently ruled against the league and cities, siding with the defendants, the Secretary of State, Laurel Lee, and Florida Department of Revenue.

The lawsuit came about due to a law passed in 2017, allowing the installation of 5G antennas and other equipment in the city rights-of-way. The league and cities challenged the limit on fees for the use of utility poles and tight approval timelines.

The lawsuit named Lee and the Department of Revenue as defendants, but both argued they don’t play roles that would make them proper parties in the case, reported the News Journal. The judge dismissed the case but warned that there’s nothing preventing the league and cities from filing another claim against the defendants.

“Under plaintiffs’ logic, the secretary would be a proper party to defend every constitutional challenge of a statute,” Lee’s attorneys wrote. “She certainly is not.”

The plaintiffs counted with, “The secretary’s expunction authority gives her a unique and supreme connection to the enforcement of unconstitutional statutes that demands her presence in cases that call upon her to exercise this power.”

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