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Abuse of Discretion

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: GEFT Outdoor, LLC v. Monroe County Indiana

Case No.: 21-3328

Officials: Wood, Scudder, and Jackson-Akiwumi, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Abuse of Discretion

Before us are cross-appeals relating to a permanent injunction preventing Monroe County, Indiana from enforcing some of its zoning laws with respect to signs—including commercial billboards. GEFT Outdoor, a billboard company, sued Monroe County because the County did not allow the installation of a digital billboard along I-69. The district court agreed with many of GEFT’s claims, entering summary judgment in the company’s favor and enjoining several provisions of the County’s sign ordinance.

On appeal GEFT wants the injunction to go even further by blocking Monroe County from enforcing every last sign regulation on the books. The Seventh Circuit agrees with the district court’s decision to limit the injunction to only the unconstitutional provisions of the County’s sign ordinance. For its part, the County cross-appeals to seek reinstatement of its variance procedure, which authorizes the local Board of Zoning Appeals to approve signs on a case-by-case basis that do not meet structural sign restrictions relating to height, size, and digital content. The Seventh Circuit agrees with the County’s cross-appeal. So in summary, the Seventh Circuit reverses the district court’s finding that the variance provision is unconstitutional and vacates the district court’s permanent injunction on those grounds; and affirms the district court’s severability determination; and remands for further proceedings.

Reversed, Vacated, Affirmed and Remanded.

Decided 03/09/23

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