A federal jury in Atlanta has awarded $17.5 million in damages to Bill Corey and Corey Airport Services, who had claimed bid-rigging in the award of the advertising rights at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The City of Atlanta and Clear Channel Outdoor say they will appeal the case.
Corey had claimed that he submitted the more lucrative bid in 2002, but the contract was awarded to Clear Channel Outdoor and its local partner, businesswoman Barbara Fouch, due to political pressure. The jury awarded Corey $8.5 million in compensatory damages, to be paid in equal thirds by the city, CC Outdoor and Fouch. It also awarded $9 million in punitive damages, with CC Outdoor ordered to pay $8.5 million and Fouch $500K.
Both CC Outdoor and the City of Atlanta vowed to appeal.
“We’re disappointed in the outcome of the trial, an outcome that we believe is incorrect and does not take into account all the facts and the law involved in this case. Clear Channel Airports participated in an open and fair competitive bidding process in Atlanta – as we have elsewhere around the country. As with such other bidding processes, we did not control the outcome. Since that time, we have conducted the advertising business at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in keeping with the same high standards of service and delivery that mark our work at numerous other airports around the country. Clear Channel will be evaluating all its options and intends to vigorously appeal this verdict,” the company said. CC Outdoor is a majority-owned subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications.
“The city is disappointed with today’s verdict in the litigation involving the 2002 airport advertising procurement. The city maintains that the process used in the airport advertising procurement was fair and lawful and that all those involved acted with integrity. The city respects the judicial process, but does not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence presented at trial,” said acting city attorney Peter Andrews in a statement.
“I’m thankful for the jury’s wisdom in this case, but saddened by the fact that the City of Atlanta chose to waste more than $3 million of the taxpayers’ money fighting a case every expert told them they would lose. It is my hope we’ll be able to end this fight and come to an agreement on the next steps,” said Corey after the jury ruled in his favor.