Preliminary injunction halts solid waste and recycling contract in Warrick County

March 30, 2016

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction temporarily upending Warrick County’s plan for collecting solid waste and recyclable materials.

Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on Tuesday found that the National Waste & Recycling Association, the organization that filed the complaint, and the Warrick County Solid Waste Management District would both suffer harms. However, the court determined the plaintiff would suffer more without temporary injunctive relief.  

As a condition of the injunction, NWRA was ordered to post a $50,000 bond to cover any damages the solid waste management district may sustain if it is later found to have been wrongfully enjoined.  

The NWRA filed a complaint against the Warrick County Solid Waste Management District over the county’s plan to implement an exclusive curbside waste and collection service. NWRA argued the county was restricting competition and creating a de facto monopoly for the processing of waste and recycling.

NWRA’s membership includes Advanced Disposal, Republic Services Inc. and Eric Gries Disposal. Since September 2013, Advanced has provided some waste collection services in Warrick County.

The solid waste management district’s board awarded the contract to provide curbside solid waste and recycling collection services in the county to a newly formed company, Renewable Resources. This business was formed by Jordan Aigner, owner of Aigner Construction which was the company that drafted all the specifications for the county’s new recycling processing facility.

Renewable was awarded the collection services contract even though the committee that reviewed the proposals had recommended Advanced be selected as the provider.

In finding that NWRA would suffer irreparable harm, the District Court explained it had to balance the injuries both parties would suffer. However, court found that NWRA will be more harmed if injunctive relief was denied.

Specifically, the court found Advanced would lose $76,000 monthly and may have the lay off employees while Republic stood to lose more than $75,000. Also, if these companies were unable to provide curbside service to many parts of Warrick County, they would likely lose the goodwill of their customers.

Meanwhile, if the court did not issue an injunction, the solid waste management district might be unable to meet its monthly operational expenses of $70,000 and may have to reduce its workforce as well.

Young concluded, “Even without considering the effect of the ‘sliding scale,’ the harms arising from not issuing an injunction are more substantial than those that would arise from issuing an injunction. Initially, employees may be terminated regardless of the court’s decision, so those harms effectively cancel each other out. Similarly, there will be financial harm no matter how this motion is decided. However, this harm slightly favors injunctive relief because it appears that the financial harm would be greater if the court denied NWRA’s motion. Further, the financial harm to NWRA’s members is not speculative.”

The case is National Waste & Recycling Association v. Warrick County Solid Waste Management District, 3:15-CV-00158.


Recent Articles by Marilyn Odendahl