By Nicole D. Prysby, J.D.
Because two entities that claimed antitrust injury after the City of Reno created exclusive service areas for trash and recyclable hauling did not demonstrate any injury, they did not have standing to bring claims under the Nevada Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA), held the Nevada Supreme Court. The two entities brought the UTPA claims after the city granted exclusive franchise agreements to other businesses. One of the plaintiffs was a facility that accepted and processed waste, so it was not a competitor of the businesses that received franchises to haul waste and recyclables. The other plaintiff was a competitor, but could not show injury because the city had allowed it to keep its existing customers by carving out an exemption to the franchise agreement system. Any loss in customers was due to the failure to follow the city’s requirement of verifying the contracts in place at the time the exemption was created. Therefore, any loss in customers was not because of the city ordinances or franchise system (Nevada Recycling and Salvage, Ltd. v. Reno Disposal Company, Inc., August 2, 2018, Douglas, M.).
Background. Nevada Recycling and Salvage and Rubbish Runners claimed that Reno Disposal Company conspired with a third party to obtain exclusive franchise agreements with the city of Reno for waste and recycling collection. The origin of the behavior at issue was the City of Reno’s plan to implement a single-stream recycling service. Reno Disposal proposed that the city create exclusive service areas in which waste haulers would have an exclusive privilege to collect and dispose of waste and recyclables within their assigned area. The city agreed and Reno Disposal and nonparty Castaway Trash Hauling each received exclusive commercial franchise agreements servicing all of Reno. Proposed city ordinances were drafted to support the agreement and trash hauler Rubbish Runners spoke against the ordinances. The city agreed to allow Rubbish Runners to keep its existing customers if it verified their contracts, but not expand to any new customers. The ordinances were approved and subsequently, Castaway Trash Hauling was purchased by a different entity which assigned its rights under the ordinance to Reno Disposal, thus giving Reno Disposal the exclusive rights to collect waste and recyclables in Reno, with the exception of the preexisting contracts of Rubbish Runners. Nevada Recycling (which operated a facility that accepted and processed waste and recycling) and Rubbish Runners claimed that Reno Disposal conspired with Castaway Trash Hauling to create an illegal monopoly for Reno Disposal, inn violation of the Nevada UTPA.
The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Reno Disposal, concluding that the Noerr-Pennington doctrine applied because the conduct alleged was political and not business in nature. In addition, the court concluded that Nevada Recycling and Rubbish Runners lacked standing to assert the UTPA claim because they were not qualified to service a franchise zone and never sought to be considered for a franchise zone. Nevada Recycling and Rubbish Runners appealed.
Standing. The Nevada Supreme Court agreed with the district court that the plaintiffs lacked standing. The UTPA is to be construed like the Clayton Act and therefore, antitrust standing requires an evaluation of the alleged harm and wrongdoing. The alleged harm in this case was insufficient to demonstrate standing for antitrust purposes. Nevada Recycling does not collect waste and recyclables and was therefore not a competitor as to the franchise agreements. It provided no evidence supporting its argument that the ordinances harmed its business. It therefore had no standing to bring a claim under the UTPA.
While Rubbish Runners was a competitor, it provided no evidence that it lost customers due to the franchise agreements. It was allowed to keep its existing customers upon verification of the contracts, so any loss of customers was a result of Rubbish Runners’ failure to verify the contracts.
The case is No. 71467.Attorneys: Stephanie R. Rice (Winter Street Law Group) for Nevada Recycling and Salvage, Ltd. and AMCB, LLC d/b/a Rubbish Runners. Mark G. Simons (Simons Law PC) for Reno Disposal Co., Inc. d/b/a Waste Management, Refuse, Inc. and Waste Management of Nevada, Inc.
Companies: Nevada Recycling and Salvage, Ltd.; AMCB, LLC d/b/a Rubbish Runners; Reno Disposal Co., Inc. d/b/a Waste Management; Refuse, Inc.; Waste Management of Nevada, Inc.
MainStory: TopStory Antitrust NevadaNews
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