Attorneys for Waste Management have agreed to reduce by $2.8 million the amount awarded by a jury in the company’s lawsuit against the city’s Solid Waste Authority, according to an order by U.S. District Court Judge Kristi DuBose.

In late January, a jury awarded more than $8 million to Waste Management Mobile Bay Environmental Center on several counts related to a breach of contract, but that amount was dropped to $5.3 million in the most recent post-trial motions related to the case.

In one motion, dated Aug. 13, attorneys for the SWA argued the jury award on some counts exceeded actual losses detailed in testimony and what the plaintiffs sought in damages. SWA attorneys advised the judgment on the first count should be dropped from almost $1.8 million to just over $1 million.

In the subsequent order, Waste Management attorneys agreed to dropping the amount to $1.3 million.

On a count related to a failure on the part of the SWA to reimburse Waste Management for capital expenses related to changing laws and ordinances, the defense noted an award of close to $1.1 million was sought at the close of the trial, but the jury awarded close to $3 million.
Once again, WM’s attorneys agreed to the reduction to $1.1 million.

Other issues in the order involved the testimony of Michael Bass, a Waste Management financial analyst who testified about lost profits during the week-long trial. His testimony tried to show the company lost close to $9 million in a five-year period because the city used another landfill for the disposal of yard waste. DuBose ordered the $3 million awarded by the jury because of this was appropriate.

SWA attorneys argued that Bass’ testimony should be considered inadmissible because WM attorneys failed to “timely and adequately disclose its claim for lost profits.” Because of this late disclosure, SWA attorneys argued they were deprived “time to analyze the lost profits claim and conduct discovery” of what they called a “cockeyed” cost deduction formula.

During the trial, SWA attorney Jim Rossler asked for a mistrial because he wasn’t granted enough time to find an independent accountant who could verify the accuracy of the information given by Bass in testimony. DuBose did not grant the mistrial.

Most recently, Waste Management attorneys argued Bass’ testimony was “harmless” because the jury only awarded $3 million, instead of the $8.7 million Bass suggested. The parties have entered mediation to settle the final claim, and a report is due in October.

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