Judge ‘trashes’ part of suit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Suffolk Circuit Court judge has thrown out most claims in a private landfill operator’s $20 million lawsuit against the Southeastern Public Service Authority.

Judge Rodham T. Delk, in a decision handed down late Friday, shot down private landfill owner John C. Holland’s allegations that SPSA – a regional waste cooperative that represents eight Hampton Roads communities – committed conspiracy and predatory pricing when it began accepting construction and demolition debris.

Holland, in his suit filed last April against SPSA and Bay Disposal, a Norfolk waste contractor, alleged that the two have created a monopoly on the disposal of construction waste.

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Construction debris, such as concrete remnants, brick, drywall and wood scraps, have traditionally been buried in the small private landfills like Holland’s Nansemond Parkway operation.

Holland’s suit accused the two businesses of striking an illegal pricing deal in 2003. According to the suit, Bay pays a disposal rate of $6.10 per cubic yard, which includes the use of SPSA trucks and drivers.

According to the suit, SPSA’s rubble-disposal program has set a rate of $6.50 per cubic yard of waste for all contractors, haulers and the public. But the going rate for private landfill operators, including Holland Enterprises, is between $8 and $11 per cubic yard.

SPSA attorney Gary Bryant said the authority has always accepted construction debris into its Suffolk landfill through its municipal-waste program. But until 2003, he said, the agency charged the same flat rate for municipal waste and construction debris. Two years ago, the agency put a price differential in place.

Holland said he is planning to appeal Delk’s decision.

&uot;We are putting together a letter in objection to the ruling,&uot; said Holland, adding that he has spent close to $1 million in legal fees since filing the case last spring. &uot;I don’t think the judge even read the case. &uot;We are not satisfied.&uot;

SPSA officials are pleased with the outcome, said Gary Bryant, the agency’s attorney

&uot;As we understand the court’s ruling, the conspiracy and anti-trust claims now have been permanently dismissed by the court.&uot;

Delk’s 10-page rendering means that Holland can not attempt to recover business damages from SPSA through the Suffolk courts, Bryant said.

Holland, on Tuesday, estimated that he has lost about $25,000 in business daily since SPSA began accepting construction and debris.

The judge has not yet decided whether SPSA can accept, for disposal, construction and demolition debris in competition with Holland Enterprises, nor has the court addressed the circumstances under which SPSA may accept construction and demolition debris, Felicia Blowe, a spokeswoman for the SPSA, said in a prepared statement.

Holland, in his original suit, called SPSA’s contract with Bay Disposal a &uot;sweetheart deal&uot; entered into in violation of the law.

&uot;SPSA, of course, denies the allegations,&uot; Blowe said. &uot;The contract with Bay Disposal is available to any of SPSA’s customers on the same terms and conditions.&uot;