Florida Bulldog by Dan Christensen
June 25, 2019
The public may soon get fresh insight into why federal and state antitrust authorities allowed Waste Management’s $525-million acquisition of a rival – a controversial 2016 deal that eliminated recycling competition and hiked the cost of trash disposal across much of Broward.
On Monday, a three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach denied Waste Management’s bid to keep secret numerous internal records it submitted to government regulators conducting antitrust investigations. The records are today at the heart of a multi-million-dollar conspiracy lawsuit Waste Management is defending against Pembroke Pines-based Bergeron Environmental and Recycling LLC.
Bergeron Environmental was 50-50 partners with Sun Recycling in Sun Bergeron when Waste Management bought the assets of Sun’s parent, Southern Waste Systems (SWS). The deal gave control of the recycling stream to Waste Management and effectively put Sun Bergeron, which had contracts with 19 Broward cities, out of business when those contracts expired last year.
Bergeron Environmental claims that Waste Management misled regulators to secure approval of its takeover of SWS as part of a conspiracy to ruin its business and steal its customers. It is seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages.
It is not known whether Waste Management will ask for a rehearing or appeal to Florida’s Supreme Court. Ilene Pabian, a Holland & Knight attorney in Miami who represented Waste Management on the appeal, did not respond to a request for comment.
Attorney Darlene Lidondici, of Fort Lauderdale’s Fertig & Gramling, represents Florida Bulldog in the case. She said that absent further appeal the panel’s decision will become final in 10 days.
“Then the case goes back to the trial court, and the stay Judge Tuter put in place when he issued his order will be lifted and those documents should be released,” Lidondici said.