The nation's two largest waste haulers, BFI and Waste Management, Inc., have been sued in federal court by a group of businesses charging the haulers with conspiring nationwide to fix prices and rig bids on waste hauling contracts. The suit was filed last October but was revealed only recently by BFI (Browning-Ferris Industries) in papers filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
This lawsuit represents the first time the two firms have been accused of conspiring on a nationwide basis to violate antitrust laws, according to Bill Richards, writing in the WALL STREET JOURNAL Feb. 17, 1988. In earlier antitrust cases involving the companies, both have insisted that senior management wasn't aware of any wrongdoing. The two haulers each operate in 40 states and abroad.
Last October both firms pleaded guilty and paid $1 million fines to federal charges that they conspired to fix prices and allocate customers in the Toledo, OH, area. Allocating customers means to divvy up customers, agreeing not to compete against each other for a customer's contract. In 1984 both firms were convicted of price fixing by a federal court in Atlanta, GA. Both companies are currently under investigation for price fixing by five grand juries in various states.
The most recent suit was brought by six businesses, the largest being Cumberland Farms, which operates a chain of convenience stores; Cumberland is no mom and pop outfit--they operate stores in 21 states and they own Gulf Oil, among other things. Other plaintiffs include Kirschner Brothers Oil in Haverford, NJ; Perry Corp. of New Jersey; Animal Hospital of Chester County, PA; Uncle Donald's, Inc. of Memphis, TN; Overton Pub, Inc., of Memphis; and George Gusses, a Toledo, OH, businessman.
The lawsuit charges that since 1978 the two waste-hauling giants--one of whom (BFI) has been linked to organized crime by a New York legislative investigation (see HWN #40)--have conspired together to allocate customers, rig bids, and fix prices.
The attorney for Cumberland is Dianne M. Nast in Philadelphia;
phone (215) 2381700.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: lawsuits; price fixing; corruption; lawyers; bfi; wmi; organized crime; haulers; antitrust; ga; investigations; cumberland farms: