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U & I Sanitation v. Columbus, City of

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20382
Nos. No. 98-1893, 205 F.3d 1063/50 ERC 1065/(8th Cir., 02/22/2000)

The court holds that a city ordinance requiring all garbage collected within city limits, except garbage destined for out-of-state disposal, to be processed at the city-owned transfer station violates the dormant U.S. Commerce Clause. A waste hauler discovered it could dispose of waste more economically by bypassing the city-owned transfer station. The city, concerned about the diversion of waste and the loss in tipping fees, enacted the ordinance at issue. The court first holds that the ordinance does not overtly violate the Commerce Clause. It has a purely intrastate designation that does not explicitly favor a local interest over out-of-state interests. The court next holds, however, that the ordinance violates the dormant Commerce Clause because the local interests it serves do not justify the burden that it imposes on interstate commerce. Considering the effect on the interstate recyclables market if several jurisdictions were to adopt similar ordinances, the court concludes that the market could be substantially impaired or diminished, if not crippled. Additionally, the purposes of the ordinance as stated by the city do not salvage the ordinance. The ordinance's revenue-generating goal may reflect a legitimate local purpose, but it is not a persuasive or overriding basis for its validity. Further, the city's argument that the ordinance limits the city's potential tort liability because it prevents leakage or misplacement of hazardous waste materials is sheer speculation and not advanced by the enactment of the ordinance. Moreover, the record shows that the city has available to it other less burdensome means to achieve its stated purposes.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Douglas J. Peterson
Knudsen, Berkheimer, Richardson, & Endacott
1248 O St., Ste. 1000, Lincoln NE 68508
(402) 475-7011

Counsel for Defendant
John P. Heil
Baird & Holm Law Firm
1500 Woodmen Tower, Omaha NE 68102
(402) 344-0500

Before Murphy and Lay, JJ.