Photo | Lagniappe
A public works employee calls for help after his truck stalls.
Waste Management (WM) is suing the Solid Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA) and the city over the same issues that resulted in a $6 million judgment for the company in 2015.
In its fresh complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Mobile, attorneys for Waste Management Mobile Bay Environmental Center claim the authority and the city breached a 1993 contract that gave control of the entire waste stream to what is now WM and forced the authority to pay for capital improvements and leachate management at the landfill in Chastang.
At the heart of the complaint is the denial of a WM request for $110,362 in reimbursements from the authority for Mobile Area Water and Sewer System leachate surcharges and improvements to the landfill’s gas management system.
Under the contract, attorneys argue, the authority is responsible for reimbursements “for any increases in contractor’s costs due to laws, rules, regulations or ordinances that become effective or have different interpretations after the date this contract is entered into and that have an adverse impact” on the contractor.
According to the suit, the request for reimbursement was denied at the authority’s July 12, 2017, meeting.
This complaint comes as at least two other lawsuits are pending in both state and federal court. WM has sued to take over ownership of land owned by the authority adjacent to the landfill. The authority has filed suit claiming WM is trespassing on that same piece of land.
These actions have helped fuel this newest complaint, WM attorney Jaime Betbeze wrote in an email. Betbeze wrote that the two sides were in the process of working out the issues when the authority filed suit.
“We had a mediation scheduled last month to try to resolve all of the outstanding issues between the parties, but the SWA filed suit the week before the mediation, making it clear that they intended to continue litigating,” he wrote. “As a result, my client felt they had no choice but to assert their claims through litigation as well.”
SWDA chairman Pete Riehm did not return a call seeking comment on the issue.
Also at issue in this latest complaint is the city’s continued use of a different landfill for the disposal of construction and debris waste, as well as yard trash.
Under the current contract, WM believes it has a right to the city’s entire waste stream, which includes the debris in question. WM claims the city and authority are in breach of the contract.
The city has tentatively agreed to a settlement with WM that would pay the company $389,000 per year to allow for the diversion of yard trash to the other landfill.
The agreement has been in the hands of council attorney Wanda Cochran for months and the body has not yet voted on it. The administration pulled the agreement from council consideration in July.
In an email, Betbeze wrote that if the council had been able to vote on the agreement, it would have been left out of the complaint.