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Waste Management to Pay $25.5M in Damages to Texas Disposal Systems

Texas Disposal Systems Landfill (TDS) has been awarded $25.5 million by a Travis County State District jury in its lawsuit against Waste Management of Texas, which dates back to 1997, reports Waste Management World.

The jury found that Waste Management had circulated false and defamatory statements about TDS and its Austin, Texas, landfill in 1997. TDS will receive $5.45 million in actual damages and $20 million in exemplary damages.

According to TDS, the jury found that Waste Management’s employees and other representatives made the statements knowing that they were false or “with reckless disregard as to whether the statements were true or not.”

These statements falsely implied that TDS’ southeast Travis County facility was environmentally less protective than other area landfills; TDS had obtained an exception to the environmental rules affecting landfills, and TDS accepted types of waste that are not permitted under State rules and under its permit, says TDS.

At that time, the companies were competing for a 30-year landfill contract with the City of Austin, and TDS had recently been awarded a 30-year contract to dispose of San Antonio’s trash, reports Statesman.com.

The case was filed in 1997 and tried in 2003, with a jury siding with Texas Disposal Systems on the defamation claim but did not award the company any money, according to the article. The company appealed and in 2006, the Texas Third Court of Appeals remanded the case for retrial.

Waste Management said in a statement that the company is “very disappointed by this decision and disagrees with the damages awarded in this now 13-year-old case. As the jury in the previous trial determined, no damages occurred and none should have been awarded,” reports Statesman.com.

Most recently, the two companies along with several others applied for a contract to build or partner with the City of Austin to build a recycling plant. The city council signed a short-term deal with Texas Disposal Systems, according to the article.

Waste Management recently has been involved in another landfill challenge. In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified Waste Management that its Kettleman City landfill has violated disposal rules for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), a banned toxin found in electrical transformers and coolants.

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