11 F.Supp.2d 105 (D.Me. 1998), Civ. 97-216, Houlton Citizens' Coalition v. Town of Houlton

Docket Nº:CIV. 97-216-B.
Citation:11 F.Supp.2d 105
Party Name:HOULTON CITIZENS' COALITION et al., Plaintiffs, v. TOWN OF HOULTON, Defendant.
Case Date:June 29, 1998
Court:United States District Courts, 1st Circuit, District of Maine

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11 F.Supp.2d 105 (D.Me. 1998)




No. CIV. 97-216-B.

United States District Court, D. Maine.

June 29, 1998

Robert M. Morris, Carton, Davis & Moris, Brunswick, ME, for Plaintiffs.

Daniel R. Nelson, Severson, Hand & Nelson, Houlton, ME, Edmond J. Bearor, Rudman & Winchell, Bangor, ME, Michael Saucier, Thompson & Bowie, Portland, ME, for Defendant.


BRODY, District Judge.

Plaintiffs, Houlton Citizens' Coalition, William J. Faulkner, d/b/a Jack's Trash Removal, Fred Spellman, d/b/a Spellman Light

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Trucking, and David Condon, d/b/a White Knight Solid Waste Disposal, bring this 42 U.S.C.§ 1983 action against Defendant, Town of Houlton ("Houlton" or the "Town"), challenging the Town's 1997 Solid Waste Management Ordinance ("Ordinance" or the "1997 Ordinance"). 1 Plaintiffs allege that by enacting the Ordinance, Defendant violated their civil rights (Counts I, III, IV). 2 Plaintiffs also allege that Houlton violated its Town Charter by failing to solicit bids or notify the public before awarding, pursuant to the 1997 Ordinance, an exclusive contract to collect and dispose of residential waste to Andino, Inc. ("Andino"), a private firm (Count II). In its Order of October 20, 1997, the Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, finding that Plaintiffs did not satisfy their burden of showing a likelihood of success on the merits with respect to whether the Ordinance violated the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. Defendant now brings this Motion for Partial Summary Judgment against Plaintiffs on Counts I, II, and III (Civil Rights and Improper Contract Award) of Plaintiffs' Complaint. Plaintiffs also move for Partial Summary Judgment on Counts I and III (Civil Rights). For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion and DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion.


Additional facts relevant to this dispute are set forth in the Court's Order of October 20, 1997. See Houlton Citizens' Coalition v. Town of Houlton, 982 F.Supp. 40, 41-42 (D.Me.1997). In 1995, Houlton enacted a Solid Waste Management Ordinance (the "1995 Ordinance") which required all residential solid waste generated within the Town to be taken to a single waste processing transfer site owned by a private contractor chosen by the Town to process the Town's solid waste. In conjunction with this Ordinance the Town awarded Andino the exclusive contract ("Contract" or the "1995 Contract") to provide residential solid waste processing. Because the Contract did not confer upon Andino the exclusive right to collect residential solid waste, the Town amended the 1995 Ordinance to allow the licensing of other solid waste haulers. Pursuant to this amendment, individual Plaintiffs Faulkner, Spellman, and Condon received licenses granting them the right to collect and haul residential waste.

On November 6, 1996, David Condon filed suit in this Court alleging that the 1995 Ordinance was unconstitutional under the dormant Commerce Clause. On March 25, 1997, the Court issued an "Order Granting Preliminary Injunction," holding that Condon had established a likelihood of success on the merits with respect to his Commerce Clause claim. In direct response to this ruling, Houlton revised its Solid Waste Management Ordinance and enacted the 1997 Ordinance.

The 1997 Ordinance provides for the Town to collect and dispose of residential refuse itself, or issue an exclusive annual license to a commercial enterprise for the collection and disposal of residential waste. Houlton, Maine, Solid Waste Management Regulations, art. V, §§ 10-512 to 513 (1997) ("Ord."). All residential refuse must either be made available by the town residents for collection by the Town or its contractor, or hauled by the resident to a disposal site designated by the Town Council. Residential refuse collected by the Town or its contractor may be disposed of at any lawful

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disposal site. 3 Ord. § 10-504. Noncompliance by waste generators or commercial waste-hauling companies is punishable by fines and penalties for each offense. Ord. § 10-503.

Under the preexisting 1995 Contract, Andino remains the Town's chosen contractor. Town residents, therefore, must use Andino to collect and haul their refuse, or haul their own refuse to Andino's disposal site. While Andino may dispose of the refuse it collects at any lawful site, Andino will undoubtedly bring the waste to its disposal site. Andino's transfer station is, in effect, the exclusive "disposal site" for residential waste in Houlton.

The 1997 Ordinance provides for the Town Council to establish the fees for residential collection and disposal services. Ord. § 10-511. Andino, as the Town's contractor, however, handles the billing and collection of these fees directly. Ord. § 10-510.


Summary judgment is appropriate in the absence of a genuine issue of any material fact and when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is genuine for summary judgment purposes, if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A material fact is one that has "the potential to affect the outcome of the suit under applicable law." Nereida-Gonzalez v.. Tirado-Delgado, 990 F.2d 701, 703 (1st Cir. 1993). Facts may be drawn from "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). For the purposes of summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See McCarthy v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 56 F.3d 313, 315 (1st Cir. 1995).


A. Civil Rights--Counts I and III

Plaintiffs allege that the Town's 1997 Ordinance violates the Commerce Clause, U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3, the Contract Clause, U.S. Const. art. I, § 10, cl. 1, and constitutes an unlawful taking of Plaintiffs' property in violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. As a threshold issue, the Town argues that Plaintiff Houlton Citizens' Coalition, a Maine nonprofit corporation comprised of Houlton citizens, lacks standing to pursue these constitutional claims. Because the Court grants Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' civil rights claims, as discussed below, the Court does not reach the standing issue.

1. Dormant Commerce Clause

Plaintiffs renew their argument, first raised in their Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, that the 1997 Ordinance impermissibly prohibits interstate competition in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause. Plaintiffs do not present any additional factual evidence pertinent to this issue. Rather, Plaintiffs reiterate their objection to the Court's reliance on the analysis used by the Second Circuit in USA Recycling, Inc. v. Town of Babylon, 66 F.3d 1272 (2d Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1135, 116 S.Ct. 1419, 134 L.Ed.2d 544 (1996). As discussed in detail in the Court's Order of...

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