Solid waste firm sues municipality of Cidras, mayor
By John McPhaul
The solid waste management company Waste Collection has sued Cidra Mayor Ángel David Concepción, in his personal capacity, and the municipality for over $32 million for discrimination, cancellation of contract, damages and illegal interference.
According to the lawsuit, since 2014 the company has had a solid waste collection and disposal contract with the municipality that is valid until 2031. A 2017 amendment requested that the company also take charge of the recycled material collection and disposal service. The contract was awarded under the Autonomous Municipalities Law and Law 107-2020 (Puerto Rico Municipal Code).
To meet the needs of Cidra, and for the long period of service, Waste Collection built a transshipment station at a cost of $2.5 million and invested $1.25 million in additional equipment, on land suggested by the municipality itself, it was reported in a press release.
“Waste Collection invested in an industrial property that was abandoned and that had been declared a public nuisance, conditioning its use and promoting economic development for the Municipality of Cidra,” says the lawsuit filed in Caguas Superior Court.
According to the plaintiff, the mayor, both in his personal and official capacity, and the rest of the co-defendants, carried out actions “aimed at affecting the municipality’s contractual relationship with Waste Collection.”
“These actions were manifested even before Mr. Concepción González was a municipal official as Mayor,” the suit alleges. “Falsely, and in a libelous manner, Mr. Concepción González and the other co-defendants have defamed the Waste Collection and its officials, claiming that they have committed corrupt and unlawful acts with the previous mayor. These actions have caused damage to the reputation of Waste Collection.”
The mayor could cancel the contract 30 days in advance of finding Waste Collection in violation of a series of causes defined in the contract prepared by the municipality itself. Concepción rescinded the contract effective July 1 of this year without indicating any breaches on the part of the Waste Collection or giving terms to correct them, if any, according to the lawsuit.
Separately, Guánica Mayor Ismael Rodríguez Ramos announced Sunday that he reached a payment agreement of $1.65 million to solid waste collection company Waste Landfill & Recycling Technologies Inc. (WLR) in a lawsuit that had been filed against the municipality during the previous administration of Santos Seda, who canceled an active contract in order to grant the concession to another company.
The company’s initial claim was for $3.9 million. As part of the agreement, the municipality of Guánica will make an initial payment of $100,000 and later monthly payments of between $8,000 and $10,000.
“Guaniqueños will remember that this was the case where the last administration, on the eve of Thanksgiving 2015, surprised everyone by canceling the contract in effect the following Monday, causing a dislocation in the collection of solid waste and debris, as was agreed in the contract signed with the municipality,” Rodríguez Ramos. “Although it was alleged by the former mayor that irregularities in the service were being investigated, there is no record of any investigation in this regard.”
As the mayor indicated in a press release, the cancellation of the contract with WLR was not due to poor service or non-compliance, but because there was already another company selected by the former mayor to carry out the work. He stated that the emergency declaration mechanism was even used to hire the new solid waste and debris collection company.
“Naturally, with all this situation, the WLR company sued in court and now, even with the serious municipal financial difficulties, we have had to address the situation,” Rodríguez Ramos said.” Fortunately, in the negotiation process, both parties have yielded in order to reach a satisfactory agreement that will allow us to move forward.”