Friday, December 27, 2013

Dooley on the Run: Talkin Trash

Although it’s been just two weeks since St. Louis County lost its battle in the trash haulers lawsuit in which Judge Barbara Wallace ordered the county to pay out $5.9 million to three haulers, some high-ranking county officials seem to fanaticize that they will be granted a “second chance day” in court, that the court will overturn its judgment in favor of the county, and that they will all live happily thereafter, as if in a fairytale.

Now that St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Wallace has ruled against the county, Garry Earls, the county’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) said that the county will appeal the judgment. Mr. Earls said, "I'm disappointed that the court determined that there was something about it that merited
Garry Earls
sending money back to these trash hauler companies. These were the losing bidders, by the way, for the trash hauler district contracts." Earls, who seems to be the county’s self-proclaimed legal analyst/law professor also said, "We think we have a good case for just overturning the whole judgment, and certainly we'll pursue that as far as we can go. Even if we do end up paying the entire judgment, the residents of unincorporated St. Louis County have still saved money."

Note that the arrogant county officials always seem to come up with a good line that they’re always saving county residents money even when they’re costing the residents millions with their bombastic mistakes. To coincide with Earls rationale, Patricia Redington, the seasoned county counselor, has repeatedly argued that the state statute did not apply to the county because it is a charter county, however courts’ didn’t buy that bill of goods from her either.

 In its case against the haulers, the county never presented any witnesses and the county also admitted that the required two-year notice via certified mail was never provided to the haulers, thus yet another instance of the county’s arrogance with regard to defiance of state law.

On the flip side, Jane Dueker, the attorney for the prevailing trash haulers has a different assessment of this contentious issue. Dueker said that “(County officials) kept saying the law didn't apply to them. They were wrong, and the courts found that they were wrong. They're still exhibiting that sort of arrogance now.” She also said that "This entire judgment was avoidable, completely, easily, cost-free avoidable." But, the county didn’t listen. And, they’re still not listening today. By appealing the judgment for damages, the county runs the risk that the trash haulers could be awarded even more in damages, as Dueker said that the interest on the $5.9 million judgment will accrue daily at a 9-percent annual interest rate, so the meter is running and the dollars are adding up.

  At every stage of the case the haulers tried to settle with the county, but their offers were rejected by county officials, according to Dueker. As such, Dueker said, "Before we filed suit, I sat there with Garry Earls and Pat Redington and said, 'I'm going to sue you, don't do this. Just give the notice.
Pat Redington
And they wouldn't do it. It's pretty rare that I see a legal case that is this one-sided, and they just keep stalling and stalling."

 Dueker also disputes Earls contention that the case is still open by stating that the Missouri Supreme Court has already ruled on the merits of the case, thus the decision with regard to the county’s fault is final and that the only remaining issue in question is the amount of damages that the county will eventually have to pay the trash haulers. Of course, the county will continue to stall and prolong the inevitable for as long as possible with any legal maneuvers at their disposal, but at some point they’re going to have to pay the haulers.

Bryan Barcom, owner of American Eagle Waste Industries and a plaintiff in the case, said "I don't want to sound like an excitement killer about getting awarded $593,000, because that's a lot of money. Don't misconceive that. However, no one looks at the fact that we lost $2.5 million a year for the last five years, and we are unable to grow our business in unincorporated St. Louis County."

Like many other St. Louis County residents, Barcom contends that the issue of the trash districts should have been decided by a vote of the people. But, St. Louis County officials and their advisors claimed that a referendum would cost too much money. Barcom counters by stating that “Would it have cost $5.9 million to put it on the ballot? "I don't think it would've."

Although this case is not completely settled yet, St. Louis County officials need to come to the realization that they lost this case and are going to have to pay the haulers. Therefore, the two key questions to be resolved are: When and How Much?

The complete news story by Gloria Lloyd with the Call Newspapers.

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