New Orleans' Camellia Grill Keeps Its Name in 5th Cir. Ruling

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 28, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New Orleans-based restaurant Camellia Grill might have survived Hurricane Katrina, but it went on to face another storm: litigation. A recent 5th Circuit ruling brings good news for the restaurant, allowing Camellia Grill to keep its name -- and also its famous white columns.

The Family vs. the Buyer

Camellia Grill is a landmark diner in New Orleans in the Carrollton section. It's conveniently located near St. Charles Avenue and is accessible by the city's famous streetcars. It's one of the city's most storied and will-loved business institutions.

The business closed down in 2007 after hurricane Katrina struck, even though the building suffered little physical damage. During that time, entrepreneur Hicham Khodr bought the restaurant along with its trademark, names, logo, and all the rest of the capital that went with it for $500,000. Soon afterwards, The Schwartz family (the sellers) sued Khodr in 2008 to try and get Kodhr to use a different name, claiming that they owned the name and that the new buyer did not.

District Rules for New Owner

In the eyes of the district court, no contest even existed. the contract of sale seemed to be "clear, unambiguous and enforceable" against the Schwartz's. It was clear that Kodhr bought Camellia Grill, name included.

The District Court's decision was essentially a reversal of an earlier state court decision that had in fact sided with the Schwartzes. The fact that the name of a diner made it all the way to the Circuit level of court goes to show just how serious both sides regard this little diner.

Circuit Affirms

The Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision that Khodr successfully bought the right to use the name Camellia Grill. Litigation had even gotten so nasty that Schwartz even moved to enjoin Khodr from using the diner's famous white columns.

Khodr has since opened other locations of the famous diner in Florida and another in the French Quarter. This victory at the circuit court means that he'll be able to continue on, unmolested for some time -- that is, unless, Mr. Schwartz decides to petition for another round of appeals to the Supreme Court.

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