On June 28, WSH Managing Director Jamie A. Cole, Partner Daniel L. Abbott, and Associate Justin D. Luger filed a complaint on behalf of several Broward municipalities (the “Cities) in a high profile case against Broward County.
The Cities and County are parties to “An Interlocal Agreement with Broward County for Solid Waste Disposal Services (the “ILA”)”, an agreement between 26 municipalities (the “Contract Communities”) and the County. The Cities are some of the Contract Communities. The ILA provided for the creation of the Broward Solid Waste Disposal District (the “District”) in November 1986.
The District is governed by the Resource Recovery Board (the “RRB”), which prior to July 3, 2013, was last comprised of eight municipal elected officials and one county elected official. The Broward County Board of County Commissioners has since become the RRB.
The ILA required that the Cities, and the Cities did, enact “flow control” ordinances, requiring all solid waste generated within their respective boundaries to be collected, transported, delivered, and disposed of at designated District waste disposal facilities. The “tipping fees” (the fees charged to dispose of solid waste at the disposal facilities) were used to finance the startup, maintenance, and continued operation of the District, including the debt service for revenue bonds issued by the County to finance District operations.
The ILA provided that the RRB is responsible for distributing the District’s assets and liabilities at the end of the term of the ILA, which is July 2, 2013. Article 15.2 of the ILA states:
“Resource Recovery Board shall provide for the equitable distribution of the Broward Solid Waste Disposal District’s assets and liabilities to the Contract Communities, unincorporated County and County at the end of the term of this Agreement. The Resource Recovery Board shall consider any perpetual maintenance responsibilities of the County in making such distribution.”
The County has rejected the RRB’s direction to have a Financial Audit and Legal Review conducted, which would have analyzed the ownership, funding, appropriate distribution of system assets, and assignment of system liabilities, thus effectively preventing the RRB from carrying out its equitable distribution duties under the ILA and forcing the Cities to bring this lawsuit.
This action seeks a declaration that the monetary assets of the District are subject to equitable distribution to the Cities, and that real property, improvements and other assets are equitably owned by the District and also subject to equitable distribution to the Cities (Counts I and II). In addition, the Cities seek an equitable accounting to determine the scope of District assets subject to equitable distribution (Count III). The Cities also claim that the County’s actions have resulted in unjust enrichment (Count IV). Finally, the Cities seek an injunction to prevent further confiscation of District assets by the County, and further efforts by the County to impair the value of District assets (Count V).
As of early August, WSH now represents seventeen (17) municipalities in this lawsuit against the County. Additional information can be found at http://www.rrbassetlitigation.com.
Attorneys in WSH’s Litigation Division have extensive experience representing municipalities in all phases of litigation. The Division specializes in cases involving complex constitutional law issues, common law claims, and tort liability. The Division operates with a boutique, team-oriented approach to service our public sector clients. Our clients benefit from our extensive knowledge of specialized substantive subject matters including government contracts, municipal aw, zoning and land use, commercial law, business law, real estate, employment and labor law, civil rights, election law, eminent domain, environment law and ADA accessibility, as well as a wide array of State and Federal constitutional challenges. In addition, our Local Government Division includes many former city and county attorneys, including those that are Board Certified in this specialty; the group focuses upon providing the full range of legal services as both city hall and the courthouse.
Author(s): Jamie A. Cole