- An antitrust lawsuit filed against Waste Management (WM) over its franchise agreement in Reno, NV was dismissed last week by Judge Patrick Flanagan of the state's Second Judicial Court, as reported by This is Reno.
- The case was filed in March 2015 by local haulers Nevada Recycling & Salvage and Rubbish Runners. They alleged that WM conspired to create a monopoly by negotiating the purchase of Castaway Trash Hauling prior to a 2012 franchise agreement in which both companies were awarded zones.
- Previous efforts to sue WM over its Reno franchise agreement have been unsuccessful and this one fared the same. "This court can find no evidence to support that characterization," Judge Flanagan said of the allegations.
Under the 2012 franchise agreement WM has exclusive rights to collect a large portion of Reno's waste through three subsidiary companies: Reno Disposal, Castaway Trash Hauling and Refuse, Inc. While some city officials have said they were unaware of WM's negotiations with Castaway prior to the franchise agreement being finalized, multiple reviews have found no issue. An outside law firm hired by the city backed up WM's position in May.
In July, WM told Waste Dive that multiple lawsuits against the company by the same plaintiffs had been dismissed in the past. Mark Simons, a lawyer for WM, reportedly characterized the dispute as a case of "I want something someone else has, and I'll say and do anything to get it" in the courtroom last week.
These types of questions around antitrust issues are likely to come up again as a wave of mergers and acquisitions continues throughout the waste industry. As cited by American Recycler, the Department of Justice required WM to divest select routes last year when it acquired Deffenbaugh Industries. A lawyer quoted by the publication recommends performing antitrust risk assessments early in the process, among other points of advice, for any companies looking at a potential deal.