BellSouth's lawsuit seeking to block funding for Lafayette Utilities System's planned telecommunications was filed too late and under the wrong statutory authority, city-parish attorneys alleged Monday in a filing in state district court.The same is true of a similar class-action suit filed by private individuals.
Now the details are a little weird, especially as to timing: the filing of the lawsuits were both more than 60 days out from the the passage of the bond issue. There are two statutes being discussed as possible bases for a lawsuit: one which is specific to a bond issuance following an election with a 60 day limit and one that is more generically about bonds and it has a 30 day limit. BellSouth et al. filed under the generic lawsuit with a 30 day limit, so being 60+ days out is really late. It's also weird that they'd file under the generic rather than the specific law. It's basic legal principle that the more tightly targeted law controls if it applies to the situation. Both flaws tempt dismissal and that's hard to explain.
Assuming that BellSouth's lawyers are competent, leaving yourself open to such obvious challenges seems odd and I find it unaccountable. Looking at it from the outside there is one scenario under which filing under a generic instead of specific law and filing late in any case makes sense: if the real purpose of the lawsuit is not win but to generate the grounds for the maximum amount of delay.
Consider the disadvantages of doing it right: You present a clear case properly filed and you win or lose. It's over. If you win this is a good thing, right? Sure...if you win. But that is assuming you expect to win. The record on the bond is that BellSouth and allies have lost before the people (almost 2-1), they lost before City-Parish Council (whose ordinance they are challenging), and they lost on the interpretation of bond-related issues in PSC (who sided with LUS on the interpretation of the issue at stake in these lawsuits) It doesn't looks so good for BellSouth's lawyers. At this point in the law the weight of corporate jurisprudence is all on the side of bond holders and bondholder security is allowed to override even illegal issuance of bonds. Appeals are swift and the bonds could likely be sold while under appeal since you've lost on substance. Once sold you've lost state law and even constitutional clauses so favor the bondholder and the legal basis on which the bondholder bought the bonds being stable that you can't successfully fight. You've lost. Finally. And pretty quickly.
On the other hand consider the disadvantages of doing it wrong: If you get dismissed for using the wrong law and for being late you can appeal. NO problemo. You appeal. Maybe twice. It takes time. You argue that, hey, this is procedural and you try for a stay on the substantial question (issuing the bonds) so that you can deal with the procedural objections raised by LUS. It takes at least as much time as in the doing it right scenario above. Or maybe the city's objections get handled in the court and are only part of a finding against BellSouth. More grounds for appeal.
All of the errors make a lot more sense if you think that BellSouth and its allies don't think they can win...but do still hope to engage LUS in endless and expensive delay. And are willing to misuse the forum offered by the court to obfuscate and delay.
Not honest or ethical? No but these guys just aren't known for worrying about that stuff.