Dallas Flow Control Lawsuit Settled

Court ruling will stand, meaning collection companies do not have to dispose of waste at the McCommas Bluff Landfill.

May 10, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations

Several waste haulers and the Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) will settle a waste flow control lawsuit against the city of Dallas that dates to 2011.

The settlement, which recently was approved by Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, means these haulers can dispose of the waste they collect in Dallas at locations of their choosing, including their own facilities located outside of the city, the NSWMA says.

The city passed an ordinance in September 2011 mandating that all waste collected inside its borders go to the city’s McCommas Bluff Landfill. NSWMA, joined by several other parties, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ordinance, saying it violated federal and state constitutional principles and city law.

The settlement makes permanent an October 2012 injunction issued by O’Connor barring the enforcement of the ordinance. According to that ruling, Dallas’ actions violated the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as well as Texas state law and the Dallas city charter. The court determined the city enacted the law for economic gain “at the expense of the franchisees’ rights and that was an unreasonable exercise of its police powers.”

Tom Brown, senior vice president and COO of Progressive Waste Solutions, Fort Worth, Texas, and chair of NSWMA’s Texas Chapter, says, “We are so happy we’re able to put this episode behind us. This settlement preserves competition for waste disposal and recycling services in Dallas. City businesses and residents will be the beneficiaries of this agreement as it assures a competitive marketplace.”

As part of the settlement, it was agreed that no flow control law would be applicable to the parties to the lawsuit until 2029.

“We are glad it’s over, but disappointed that Dallas taxpayers had to foot the bill for defending this terrible ordinance,” says Sharon Kneiss, president and CEO of the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), the parent association of NSWMA. “Cities, counties and states should be on notice that we will not stand idly by and let local governments establish waste disposal monopolies. It’s not just bad for our industry, it’s bad for the consumer and the taxpayer as well. Let the market determine the most economical and environmentally sound waste management solutions. The answer is not a government monopoly.”

The parties to the settlement included NSWMA; Bluebonnet Waste Control Inc.; IESI Corp.; Republic Services Inc.; Waste Management Inc.; Businesses Against Flow Control; and the city of Dallas.