New: State Supreme Court will hear trash-district case in May

Class-action lawsuit seeks repayment of fees from haulers.

By EVAN YOUNG

The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday docketed oral arguments in a class-action lawsuit over St. Louis County’s trash-district program.

Both sides will present their case before the state high court on Wednesday, May 11.

The high court on March 1 sustained the appeal of three residents who sued the county and three waste haulers over the establishment of eight trash districts in unincorporated areas.

Plaintiffs Cathy Armbruster of Lemay, Paul Marquis of Fenton and Mike Weber of Oakville sued the county and Allied Waste, IESI and Veolia Environmental Services in 2009. The county contracted with the three haulers in 2008 to serve the trash districts exclusively.

The plaintiffs contend the county violated a state statute by not providing two years’ written notice of its forthcoming trash district program to other waste haulers, and its own charter by not putting the program to a vote.They also believe the trash-district haulers are being unjustly enriched.

Representing residents and other county property owners, the plaintiffs want Allied, IESI and Veolia to repay all the fees they’ve collected since the program began. The plaintiffs also want the ordinances establishing the districts, and prohibiting unauthorized haulers from providing trash removal within them, declared “illegal and void.”

A state appellate court panel in November upheld most of a county circuit court’s earlier dismissal of the case. But the judges sent back to trial court the issue of whether the county violated its charter by not letting voters consider the trash-district program.

Of the four lawsuits filed in connection with the county’s trash program, this is the first case which the state Supreme Court has agreed to consider. The high court twice declined to hear a lawsuit brought against the county by three waste haulers alleging they did not receive a state-mandated two years’ notification before the county established the trash districts.

A county circuit judge has ruled in that case that the haulers — American Eagle Waste Industries, Meridian Waste and Waste Management of Missouri — are entitled to damages, and a trial has been scheduled Tuesday, May 31, to determine an amount.

A May court date also has been set in a lawsuit against the county by unincorporated residents Brett Buchanan and Greg Porter that seeks a vote on the trash-district program.

The Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in that case on Wednesday, May 4.