NEW ORLEANS – Today, the City of New Orleans filed suit against CenturyLink, Inc., and seven of its subsidiaries in the Civil District Court for Orleans Parish related to the companies’ failure to pay franchise fees associated with their use of City rights-of-way.
"We have been and remain committed to ensuring that the City of New Orleans and our people get their fair share. In this case, CenturyLink has benefited greatly from using our City’s rights-of-way, but has not upheld its end of the bargain by paying their franchise fees. This amounts to millions of dollars in unpaid fees, important funds that can and should serve our residents. The people of New Orleans deserve better, and we will fight for our residents at every opportunity," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
"For years, CenturyLink has violated its agreements with the City of New Orleans, and unjustly enriched itself by illegally operating in our City without paying the agreed-upon franchise fees. Despite our best efforts to resolve the issue with CenturyLink, CenturyLink has persisted in failing to remit payment to the City as required. In an effort to protect the City’s interest, the City has now filed a lawsuit demanding that CenturyLink make good on its promise to the people of New Orleans, and pay the millions owed," said City Attorney Sunni LeBeouf.
"This is one of the defining reasons our Mayor took action to reestablish the Office of Utilities as one of her first executive orders. When nobody is watching, it is too easy for some companies to avoid their obligations to our residents and to our City. The Office of Utilities will continue to be vigilant in securing the best services for our residents, and the proper resources for our City," said Jonathan Rhodes, Director, Office of Utilities.
Over the past decade, CenturyLink and its subsidiaries have amassed nearly $13 million in unpaid franchise fees while at the same time continuing to operate and earn significant revenue from the City’s public rights-of-way. Specifically, the suit alleges Breach of Contract, violations of the Wireline Telecommunications Franchise Act, Unjust Enrichment and requests that the Court order the removal of CenturyLink’s property from City rights-of-way.
This is not the first time this Louisiana-based company has disregarded the fees owed to its host cities. Recently, the City of Shreveport sued CenturyLink over unpaid franchise fees and was awarded $6.7 million by the First Judicial District Court for Caddo Parish.