By: John Cropley
November 3, 2020
ALBANY — Two big players in the Capital Region trash pickup industry may be heading back to court.
County Waste and Recycling Service of Clifton Park is suing Twin Bridges Waste and Recycling of Halfmoon for allegedly using a campaign of deceit to lure County customers to Twin Bridges.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in state Supreme Court, Albany County. Joining County as a plaintiff is Robert Wright Disposal, a Glenmont company that County acquired in August.
The legal papers make the following assertions and allegations:
All three companies provide trash collection and recycling services; Twin Bridges is a competitor to the other two in the Capital Region market and adjoining areas.
Scott Earl started County in 1990 and ran it until 2011, when he sold it for more than $300 million to Waste Connections US.
In 2014, Waste Connections sued Earl in federal court, alleging he had concealed large and growing liabilities of County Waste to a group self-insured workers’ compensation trust and in fact had represented that no trust liabilities of this nature existed at the time of the sale; Waste Connections sought more than $32 million in damages but the two settled out of court and Earl accepted all liabilities in the matter.
As a result of that lawsuit and other disputes, Earl developed and still harbors significant animosity toward Waste Connections.
After the 2011 sale of County Waste, Earl continued to do business through entities known as County Waste of Virginia and County Waste of Pennsylvania; Earl said publicly in 2019 that he and his business partners had agreed to sell those two entities to GFL Environmental of Toronto for about $725 million.
GFL said in 2019 that it would keep Earl on as an employee and a shareholder; Earl’s LinkedIn page lists him as a corporate specialist for GFL from January 2020 to present.
Early in 2019, Earl bought Twin Bridges from the family that owned it.
Earl’s strategy is to expand Twin Bridges’ market share in any way possible, regardless of laws and ethics, so he can sell it for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Earl has directed Twin Bridges employees to use unlawful, unfair, dishonest, deceptive and fraudulent tactics to get customers to breach their agreements with County Waste and Robert Wright, and to enter new agreements with Twin Bridges.
The lawsuit alleges multiple instances of these tactics, including Twin Bridges’ assertions that recycling is optional in Colonie; that County Waste had been sold to Twin Bridges; that Twin Bridges was taking over the territory for County Waste; that Twin Bridges and County Waste are affiliated; and that County Waste is a national hauler based out of Canada with Wall Street investors. These were spread by email, in-person at customers’ front doors and via fliers placed in mailboxes.
Twin Bridges representatives caused submission of bogus one-star Google reviews of County Waste; offered to pay liquidated damages to customers who breached their contracts with County Waste; removed 13 dumpsters and 27 carts owned by County Waste and dumped them in the parking lot of the Slingerlands Price Chopper after inducing the owners of nearby rental communities to switch from County Waste to Twin Bridges; and got a County Waste employee to come to work for Twin Bridges and violate his non-competition/non-disclosure agreement.
Dozens of customers have breached their contracts and switched service to Twin Bridges, resulting in loss of tens of thousands of dollars in revenue and unpaid liquidated damages of more than $150,000, among other damages.
The plaintiffs say all of these things have damaged their business and their reputations, and say Twin Bridges will continue in unlawful, deceptive and misleading behavior until forced in court to stop.
They seek compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as an order forcing Twin Bridges to cease its actions.
Twin Bridges did not return a request for comment for this story Tuesday.
Twin Bridges also did not respond earlier this year to The Daily Gazette’s request that it discuss its rapid growth for a story.
In an Aug. 14 post on its Facebook page, which has over 4,500 followers and over 4,300 likes, Twin Bridges thanked its customers. That post reads:
“We’d like to take a minute and thank the Capital Region and all our customers for their loyalty and support. When we first started out it was just a couple of trucks, a small office on Route 9, and a tight-knit group of family and friends. We never thought that in just a year we would grow to servicing over 50,000 homes and businesses. We started with a promise of “Service, Not Excuses” and with your support we’ve been able to meet and hopefully exceed your expectations. Loyalty is important to us and we just wanted to say, thanks for giving us a shot.”
This article was originally published on dailygazette.com