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Maharg, Inc. v. Van Wert Solid Waste Management Dist.

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20609
Nos. No. 99-4035, 249 F.3d 544/(6th Cir., 05/07/2001)

The court affirms a district court dismissal of an Ohio solid waste collection company's claim that a county's waste processing rules violated the company's constitutional rights. The county adopted rules that required the county's waste to be disposed of in county-designated landfills that agreed to collect and remit to the county a fee for county waste disposed of at that landfill. The company disposed of most of its waste at an out-of-state landfill, and although that landfill was a designated facility, the county rescinded the designation when the landfill refused to sign a designation agreement. The county subsequently adopted a resolution that designated eight landfills, one of which was out of state. The company then brought suit claiming that the county's designation rules violated the U.S. Commerce Clause and its equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The court first holds that the county's rules do not violate the Commerce Clause. The rules do not discriminate against interstate commerce on their face or in practical effect. The rules are not territorially based, and the company is not forbidden to dispose of its waste out of state. Likewise, the practical effect of any or all counties adopting the rules at issue does not strangle interstate commerce, and the rules do not deprive the company of a competitive advantage it gained by using the interstate market. What the company really challenges is its inability to dispose of waste in its favored landfill, but the county would have approved the landfill if it had signed the designation agreement. The court then holds that the county's rules do not impose a burden on interstate commerce that is clearly excessive in relation to the putative local benefits. The court also holds that the county did not violate the company's equal protection rights by excluding it from the designation process. The county directed the designation process to all landfill facilities, and it is not the county's fault that the company, unlike its competitors, did not own its own landfill. The court next holds that the county's adoption of its rules was not arbitrary and capricious and, thus, could not be said to violate the company's due process rights.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Kevin N. McMurray
Frost & Jacobs
201 E. 5th St., Cincinnati OH 45202
(513) 651-6800

Counsel for Defendants
Albin Bauer II
Eastman & Smith
One Seagate, 24th Fl., Toledo OH 43699
(419) 241-6000

Nelson, J. Before Merritt and Batchelder, JJ.