A federal court in Texas has permanently enjoined Dallas City Council’s enforcement of a solid waste flow control ordinance that, among other things, required that all waste collected in the city be disposed of at a city landfill. Nat’l Solid Wastes Mgmt. Ass’n v. City of Dallas, No. 11‑3200 (N.D. Tex. 10/16/12). In 2007, five franchisees entered into agreements with the city permitting them to collect, transport and dispose of solid waste from locations within the city for 20 years at “any authorized landfill.” In 2011, the Dallas City Council passed City Ordinance No. 28427, requiring all waste collected in the city to be disposed of at a city landfill. The franchisees sued, seeking to permanently enjoin the ordinance, alleging that it violated their state and federal constitutional rights, as well as the City Charter. The city argued that the ordinance was a reasonable exercise of its police power to (i) deter illegal dumping of solid waste, (ii) increase recycling, (iii) ensure the safe and proper handling of solid waste within the city, (iv) provide for cost-efficient solid waste management, and (v) facilitate the development of data on solid waste management.
The court found that, despite the city’s proffered justifications, the evidence showed that it implemented the ordinance to raise revenue to advance its economic and proprietary interests at the expense of plaintiffs. The court therefore ruled that the ordinance was an unreasonable exercise of the city’s police powers and would cause plaintiffs irreparable harm if allowed to take effect. Finding that the ordinance violated the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Due Process Clause of the Texas Constitution, the court permanently enjoined the city from enforcing it.