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Sharpsmart v. Smith

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20077
Nos. 17-16424, (9th Cir., 05/02/2018)

The Ninth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction enjoining California Department of Public Health officials from enforcing the California Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA) against a medical waste facility with regard to how it disposes of medical waste at facilities outside the state. The facility will likely succeed on the merits of its claim that the Department officials' application of the MWMA constituted a per se violation of the dormant Commerce Clause. California cannot reach out and impose its notions of the proper way to dispose of medical waste upon those who are conducting disposal activities in other states in accordance with the laws of those states. But the doctrine of qualified immunity protected certain Department officials from damages liability where the facility's constitutional rights under the dormant Commerce Clause were not clearly established at the time of the violation. The court therefore reversed the lower court decision in this regard.