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Garbage lawsuit against County dismissed

Last week McCreary Circuit Court Judge Dan Ballou dismissed the case against the McCreary County Fiscal Court and Scott Solid Waste, ending a three-year legal battle over how the garbage collection bid was awarded.

Cardinal Sanitation, a waste collection company based out of Wayne County, was one of three bidders in 2011 when the Fiscal Court was looking to award the contract to collect solid waste in McCreary County.

After first receiving and opening sealed bids, the Fiscal Court rejected all three bids, instead opting to take the best rates from the three submittals and combine them into a listing of specific rates the potential companies would have to offer in order to be awarded the franchise.

One of the three companies, Poff Carting, refused to submit a second bid, but both Cardinal and Scott did so.

A second meeting of the Fiscal Court was called to award the bid, which was given to Scott Solid Waste – the decision based mainly on past performance, as both companies promised to meet the target rates.

Cardinal filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the majority of the targeted bid pricing was taken from their original bid and claiming the Fiscal Court violated the law when Magistrates Roger Phillips and Stan Cox reportedly met with representatives of Scott Solid Waste to discuss the new pricing structure.

In two separate rulings last week, Judge Ballou dismissed the cases against the defendants, both represented by different legal teams.

Cardinal’s lawsuit alleged the Fiscal Court violated state law by rejecting all three initial bids for garbage service, then ultimately awarding the contract to Scott Solid Waste using Cardinal Sanitation’s pricing structure. It also contended the Fiscal Court acted in bad faith by negotiating with Scott after the first bids were rejected.

The first ruling, a summary judgment on Scott Solid Waste’s motion to dismiss, Judge Ballou ruled Cardinal Sanitation “failed to demonstrate clear and palpable evidence that the decision to award the solid waste collection franchise to Scott was not supported by substantial evidence, or to establish a genuine issue of material fact on that issue.” It further stated that there were no genuine issues of material fact support Cardinal’s claims.

In the ruling it was stated the Fiscal Court had “considerable discretionary authority” in how it chose to award the contract, and did so within the law.

Cardinal’s accusation that the process was conducted “arbitrarily” or “corrupt” was not supported by any arguments they brought before the Judge.

The Judge ruled that Cardinal’s argument focused on the process of how the contract was awarded, but “made no effort to demonstrate that the product of that method was arbitrary.”

A footnote in the ruling further backs up the decision, stating: “Although Cardinal at times suggested the McCreary County Fiscal Court’s decision was ‘corrupt’ it has offered no evidence that the decision was based on a bribe or other illegal depraved action.”

Citing case law, the ruling also affirmed the County had the legal right to use the pricing from the first bids to “negotiate the best terms for the people of McCreary County.”

The second ruling dismisses the case against the members of the Fiscal Court on behalf of the County on the grounds that the County is immune from actions based on contract and claims for money damages,

“The Court finds that there is no genuine issue of material fact,” and “McCreary County is immune from those claims,” the ruling stated.

While the decision is open to appeal, Sabrina Flynn, Co-owner of Cardinal Sanitation, said this week that she has not had time to consult with her attorney and discuss the ruling and their possible options.

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