Washington -- A district court here wrongly sided with
Americable International in a lawsuit claiming that the Florida-based cable company broke
a contract when it stopped paying public-relations firm The Keefe Co. in 1988, a federal
appellate court has ruled
The district court had ruled in favor of Americable, which
argued that its fee arrangement with the PR firm was invalidated by the firm improperly
using congressmen to write letters in an effort to help the cable company get installation
agreements on military bases.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
sided with Keefe March 12, deciding that the letters did not necessarily constitute
"improper influence." Those letters, the court wrote, could also be read as
promoting Americable on the merits of its service.
Keefe sued Americable for breaking an agreement that the
two companies reached in 1985, when the PR company signed on to help Americable secure
contracts to install cable television on military bases.
Keefe maintained that the relationship eventually soured,
and in 1988, the firm stopped receiving payments -- a share of the gross revenues and a
fee for each residence hooked up to the system.
Keefe has not yet won its case. The federal appellate court
was undecided on a second question -- whether the PR firm filed its suit against
Americable before the District of Columbia's statute of limitations took effect. That
matter has been sent to the D.C. Court of Appeals for resolution.
If the appeals court decides that the statute of
limitations is not applicable, the case could be argued before a jury, said Griffith L.
Green, Keefe's attorney.
States News Service