Wednesday, December 11, 2013

St. Louis County told to pay nearly $5.9 million in trash hauling case

A judge Wednesday awarded a total of nearly $5.9 million to three companies that claim they didn’t receive proper notification of changes in the St. Louis County trash hauling system.

St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Wallace ordered that the county pay $4.9 million to Waste Management of Missouri, $590,00 to American Eagle Waste Industries and $384,000 to Meridian Waste Services.

The three firms provided trash services to unincorporated sections of St. Louis County when the trash hauling system was reconfigured in 2008.

“We’re glad and relieved that the judge found in our favor yet again regarding the illegal trash district program,” said Jane Dueker, the attorney representing the haulers. “We hope this will end the saga.”
A statement by County Counselor Patricia Redington indicated it may be premature to declare the case over.

“We do not believe the facts and law support this award and will aggressively pursue our options,” said the statement issued by County Executive Charlie Dooley’s office. “We are confident we will prevail under the law and the evidence submitted.”

Redington said the county’s self-insurance and excess insurance policies will cover the “bulk of any judgment we may ultimately pay.”

Lawyers for the haulers argued that the county acted unlawfully by not giving the haulers two years notice before establishing the new trash districts in unincorporated sections of the county.

Wallace agreed in a decision that the county appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.
The high court upheld Wallace last year.

The court at the same time asked that Wallace re-visit the merits of the $1.1 million awarded the companies in the earlier ruling.

On Wednesday, Wallace decided the county should pay more than five times the amount of the original damages.

County Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls defended the trash district program in a statement also issued by Dooley’s office. Earls said the 110,000 county households save an average of $6 per month under the new system. Those households have saved $40 million cumulatively since 2009, Earls added.

The trash districts have been mired in controversy including allegations that John Temporiti, Dooley’s campaign manager, influenced county trash hauling contracts for a company he represented in his private law practice. Temporiti has denied the allegations.

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